A Valuable Lesson from my One Year Old

Tyler is constantly trying new things. He doesn’t give up! While learning to walk, he fell many times. While trying to talk, he sounds “funny,” but keeps on trying to make sounds. Soon I’m getting to hear “car,” “dog,” and my new favorite, “no.”

Tyler has what they call a Growth Mindset. In his little 18 month old heart, he believes that he can keep growing…and he can. He doesn’t think that he is as smart as he is going to get. He keeps on plugging along and never gives up. This mindset allows him to keep trying new tasks because he has the motivation and inner dialogue that says, “you can do this!”

What if Tyler had a Fixed Mindset? Would he have been happy just chilling in his swing for life, for fear that he would look silly taking those first steps? Would he have thrown in the towel at learning new skills such as holding a fork or kicking a ball because he felt too vulnerable if he tried something new?

It seems ridiculous to think of a one year old throwing in the towel at new skills, but it’s just what adults do everyday. While taking part in a book study on the Growth Mindset, I realized Tyler was the perfect example for all to follow. As I was reading, I realized that Tyler, at just one year of age, was teaching me a valuable lesson!

As adults, many with a fixed mindset won’t try new things because they think they might fail. These types of people think some people are born smart or with gifts and others aren’t, will have trouble taking risks or putting themselves in vulnerable spots. They believe they won’t be able to do it.

However, those with a Growth Mindset believe that if they work hard, they can develop new skills. It’s those adults that will take risks, try new things, and keep persisting when the going gets tough, that keep growing.


So how do I make sure that Tyler keeps this Growth Mindset? The book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success shares these ideas:

  • Think of a time someone outdid you. If you thought they were more talented or smart, shift your thinking… consider the idea that they just had better strategies or worked harder to achieve through obstacles. You can do that too, if you want to.
  • When praising kids, praise their effort over being “smart.” Smart implies they were born with it, their effort shows they were working towards a goal. When we praise them for being smart, it sends a message that we are proud of them for their intelligence instead of the effort they put in. When your child brings home an ‘A’ ask them what strategies they used to get there versus just saying, “wow, you are so smart.”
  • When parenting, hold high standards for your children. But don’t forget to also help your child work through strategies to reach these standards. Help your child set goals, but remember having an innate talent isn’t a goal.
  • Some phrases that can help move towards a growth mindset include: “What mistake did you make today that taught you something,?” “What did you work hard at today,?” “What did you learn today?” “What challenges were you able to overcome?” These are great dinner table conversations, and ones that children and adults can participate in.

Watching Tyler has made me see the value of the Growth Mindset, and I’m working to make sure my dialogue, both inner and outer, is allowing everyone in my house to see the value of effort and how they really can achieve anything they put their mind, or effort, into!


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