He said it about 14 times before lunch yesterday.
“I can’t do anything right…”
“I’m never going to be able to do it…”
“I should just give up. I am never going to be able to read… to draw… to the play the guitar… to write.”
I am sad to say, as my son heads into his teenage years, a negative mindset has become his almost constant companion.
It caught me by surprise at first.
We homeschool. He is not being bullied. I try every single day to focus on his strengths and encourage him. “Where is this coming from?” I wondered.
But the more I have learned about fixed vs. growth mindsets, the more I have come to see this as a fact of life for many of our kids. With or without special needs, learning to focus on the good and the true is a significant challenge for growing tweens and teens (and adults for that matter).
Add in the differences that my kiddos face, and it can become an all day long battle.
The truth is, I hate it. Seeing my son caught in his own web of negative self-perception makes me want to cry and scream, all at the same time.
Cry, because it breaks my heart.
Scream, because I feel so frustrated with his inability to see the truth sometimes.
Helping A Child With A Negative Mindset
I have found that the most effective way to combat this negativity and inspire more confidence in my son, is to incorporate growth mindset activities into our every day.
My absolute favorite resource to help guide these exercises has been Big Life Journal. This week, it got even better. The new Big Life Journal, Teen Edition is now available on Kickstarter. (Incidentally, the campaign was fully funded 40 minutes after it launched. This is a MUCH NEEDED resource!)
The generous folks at Big Life Journal gave me an advance copy of the journal, knowing I am a big fan and a desperate mom. I thought for this week’s Friday FunDay activity, I would share one of the activities we did in conjunction with the new journal, in an effort to help my son develop a more growth oriented mindset.
Please know, although Big Life Journal was kind enough to send me a copy of the Teen Journal, I was not compensated for this review. I am sharing because I think it is an excellent resource and because we love it.
Friday Fun-days: 52 weeks of Easy For Mom Activities
At the core of the Big Life Journal is the idea that our repetitive thoughts and self-talk form our beliefs and ultimately our mindset. The contrast between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset lays the groundwork for healthier, more positive thinking.
With that in mind, my son and I began by reading a passage in the journal explaining these concepts. We ended on this page:
This visual became the inspiration for our hands-on learning activity this week.
When Your Tween or Teen Has A Negative Mindset
In an effort to help my son internalize this learning and make it much more practical, I asked him to draw a set of “heads” similar to the ones in the journal. He decided to draw the fixed mindset silhouette with a big nose and sort-of evil features. He drew a mohawk on the growth mindset one, because he is 12.
We then had a very casual conversation around what he tends to think, believe and vocalize about himself. He was easily able to fill-up the fixed mindset head space, something that we agreed causes him pain and stress.
Then, we found ways to think about the same set of challenges, but with a growth mindset.
Here is the final result.
Big Life Journal for tweens and teens is available now on Kickstarter. If you have tweens or teens, you know how tricky this age can be. There is so much uncertainty and anxiety that come with transitioning into adulthood. Please know, Big Life Journal can help.
Shawna Wingert is a former training and development professional turned education specialist, and has homeschooled her two children for the last ten years.Shawna has written four books about homeschooling unique learners and has been featured in homeschooling discussions on Today.com, The Mighty, Simple Homeschool, My Little Poppies and Raising Lifelong Leaners.
You can find her online here at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.