Today I was fortunate enough to meet a wonderful family and take them out to look at some homes. It was a family of four: husband, wife, son in kindergarten and 16 year old daughter. The son had high energy and was very inquisitive. He ran around other people’s yards with a childlike carefree manner carrying his BB-8 toy in one hand and a small plastic space shuttle in the other. He wants to go to space one day and according to his father, he’s obsessed with anything space related. This kid even shared some fun facts about Apollo 13 and told me he did a project at school on Nasa. Remember those corrugated display boards we made to science and history projects? It was one of those. As I talk to him, he begins to share more an more of his interests. Everything from Hippopotamus’ and ant farms to Rocket ships. Later, I start talking to the father and he says “You know, after raising 2 other kids, I feel like I know a lot better how to raise children, it’s really experience you know? I learned that my kid should learn everything there is so that whoever he talks to, he’ll be well rounded and know about the topic. I don’t care if nobody likes him.” I thought this was a very interesting thought. He doesn’t care of his kid is eccentric and none of the other kids like him.
As an adult, we should have learned by now that being different does not automatically translate to being a bad thing. However, as a child, if nobody likes you except for your family, is that a good trade off? What unseen effect will culminate from this? More positives or more negatives? It’s hard to have full control of how your children grow up and we may never have complete comprehension of psychology to know if what we are doing is causing more harm or help. I think that it is hard for parents not to be overprotective so this was a new and unexpected perspective. The children who end up being founders of businesses or really creative minds are often the ones that disrupt the status quo so he may be onto something.
On the topic of child rearing, Dr. Carol Dweck writes in her book Mindset on two types of mindsets, the growth mindset versus the fixed mindset. Fixed means that people believe you are given your natural talents and there isn’t much you can do to change it. Growth mindset focuses on the idea that everything can be developed and you can grow to become better at anything. An important thing to be aware of, is to focus on the process of getting to the result rather than the result itself. You should not tell a child “Wow, you got an A, good job.” as it puts the focal point of importance on the grade itself which is fixed and unchangeable. Here are some examples of verbiage that can promote growth mindset. “You really studied for your test and your improvement shows it. You read the material over several times, you outlined it, and you tested yourself on it and it really worked!” Being likeable and being different doesn’t always have to be a zero sum game.