One shift in thinking has drastically improved my parenting, and that is moving from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset about being a mom. This growth mindset says – you are always learning and it's never too late to make a more positive choice. When you make a mistake it's not an indication that you are doomed to be a failure; it's an opportunity to grow.
The concept is easy enough to understand, but changing the thinking habits I had wasn't as simple. One of the interesting things about growth mindset that Carol Dweck states in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, is that we can have a growth mindset about one area of life, but not another – that's how I was about parenting. I had a growth mindset about things like creativity and academic learning. However, when it came to parenting, I expected myself to be a natural at being a mom.
I felt so awful about making mistakes in parenting. I'd feel so terribly guilty that I could barely make room for more positive, growth oriented thoughts. However, over time I discovered certain phrases that would quiet down the negative judgmental inner voice and allow me to learn instead of getting stuck in a place of depression and hopelessness. Here is a collection of those phrases that encourage a growth mindset about parenting.
10 Phrases to Encourage a Growth Mindset in Parenting
- Always learning – short and simple, you can think about this phrase to remind yourself that it's healthy to be in the process of learning, you don't have to know everything.
- Connection, not perfection – this is my personal favorite growth mindset phrase for remembering the priority in my relationships is connection, not getting every detail perfect. It is useful to think when I find myself getting stressed about a family event not going as planned, when I want to support a friend and don't quite know the right words, or when I find myself waiting for just the right time to talk or play with my kids. Connection, not perfection nudges me towards what matters most.
- I'm in tune with my kids and I can make adjustments to our routines when needed. Have you ever felt like a failure when your perfectly worked out routine falls to pieces? It's helpful to remember that your job is actually paying attention to this and making a change.
- This used to work for us (or I thought this would work for us) but I am empowered – I can make a change when things aren’t working. It can be hard to have a growth mindset when something you thought would be perfect for your family….isn't. We put a lot of store in parenting choices like schooling, breastfeeding, foods we feed our kids, childcare, sleeping arrangements and so on. It's not to say the way we handle these decision isn't important, they are. However it is a mistake to believe there is one right way and if you find it everything will be great. Sometimes we have to make a change, and it can be humbling and scary, but holding on to patterns that don't work for your family is no way to be a leader. Which leads us to another phrase that helps you have a growth mindset about parenting…
- It takes strength and wisdom to recognize you need to change course, and then take action to make that change.
- I made a mistake and I am a big enough person to learn from it and move forward instead of clinging to something that isn’t working. Sometimes it stings to admit we were wrong, but compounding a mistake by clinging to something that isn't working for you isn't the answer. Learning from it and moving on is freeing.
- It's never too late to make a more positive choice. Sometimes I've been caught up thinking that everything is a mess – why bother? This phrase reminds me that making a more positive choice is always an option.
- I can change directions. I can start over from now. Some days we need a do-over. Permission granted. You can start over from now.
- I am a work in progress and this is part of that progress. It's great to have a vision of where you want to be, but sometimes it's easy to forget that the process of learning and growing has great value. You are someone valuable right now.
- I always have potential for growth. Yes you do – you are not too old, too broken, too dumb. You have potential for growth. It's helpful for me to remember I am not stuck being one particular way; through effort and time I can change if I wish.
- What have I learned from this? Reflecting on what you've learned, even from the most uncomfortable situations, helps you grow.
- Mistakes mean I'm learning. I always loved the song my Dad would sing to me when I was a kid that had a chorus that said, “Oops, you made a mistake, and you're beautiful to me.“
What phrase do you like to say to yourself to help you remember that you don't have to be perfect?