Category Archives: Health & Wellness

Growth Mindset and the Power of “Yet”

Growth Mindset and the Power of “Yet”

Written by: Caitlin Courshon

Using decades of research, Stanford researcher and professor Carol Dweck explains that people have a tendency to view intelligence from one of two competing perspectives: “fixed mindset” versus “growth mindset.”

A person with a fixed mindset tends to view talents and abilities as unchangeable. For example, you may hear your child say any of the following:
“I can’t read that word!”
“I’m not a math person.”
“I’ll never get this right!”

By contrast, an individual with a growth mindset tends to believe that they can improve their abilities over time with practice. For example, you may hear your child say any of the following:
“I love a challenge!”
“Puzzles are really difficult for me, but I’m going to keep practicing.”
“That book was tricky for me to read, and I worked really hard to make it to the end.”

Watch this brief video that explains some key differences between fixed and growth mindsets.

Research shows that students who have a growth mindset tend to value learning, remain positive when dealing with setbacks and believe that the harder they work toward a goal, the better they will become. For more information, watch Carol Dweck’s TED Talk on “The Power of Believing that you can Improve,” in which she explains the importance of growth mindset through her years of fascinating research.

How do we teach children to adopt a growth mindset?

1.Teach your child about the brain
Ask your child, “Did you know that your brain is a like a muscle?” Then watch this brief video and explain the concept of neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to constantly change and grow. 

Teaching your child about how the brain works and reminding them that they can change their brain through practice is a great start to encouraging a growth mindset. You can use videos, books, coloring sheets and physical models of the brain to make this information engaging and interactive!

2.Praise your child’s process, not their intelligence 
Instead of praising your child for their talents, try to provide specific praise about their process, such as the effort they showed, the strategies they used, their focus on work or how they improved or learned from a mistake.
Instead of: “You are such a talented artist.”
Try: “I really like the details of your painting. I can tell you worked really hard on it.”

Instead of: “Wow! You got 10/10 on your test. You are so smart!”
Try: “Wow! You got 10/10 on your test. You studied a lot for that test, and I’m proud of you for working so hard.”

Instead of: “Nice job getting that math question correct!”
Try: “You tried a lot of different strategies to solve that tricky math question. That was great to see!”

3.Use the word “yet”
The word “yet” can be very powerful when it comes to teaching children about how to re-frame their fixed mindset. For younger children, check out this Sesame Street “Power of Yet” music video

Child says: “I can’t read that word.”
You say: “You can’t read that word just yet! Let’s sound it out together.”

Child says: “I don’t know how to do addition.”
You say: “You don’t know how to do addition yet! Would you like to practice together?”

Child says: “I’ll never get this right!”
You say: “Not yet, but with lots of practice, this will get easier.”

4.Be the growth mindset role model
What better way to teach your kids how to adopt a growth mindset than to model one yourself? Show your child what it looks like to work hard when you encounter a challenge, the importance of practice and how to learn from your mistakes.

In the words of Carol Dweck, “If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning.”

Nutrition in Childhood: It’s Important!

Nutrition in Childhood: It’s Important

Written by: Rachele Gentry

Many children are famous for refusing to eat food that is green, stinky or, generally, healthy. As a result, many parents say, “My child wants to eat chicken nuggets for every meal.” 

While chicken nuggets and French fries is a fun and tasty meal every now and again, eating processed food is not benefiting your child’s health. 

Childhood obesity is at an all-time high. Parents must know how to promote a healthy lifestyle to their children, and this includes good nutritional habits. Research suggests that nutrition is linked with learning and memory, and children who eat more nutritious food do better in school. 

Many parents find it difficult to provide their children with nutrient-dense snacks and meals. The difficulty may be related to a busy schedule, limited budget or a child who is a picky eater. But parents, you are not alone in the struggle. 

Here are a few simple tricks for promoting a healthy lifestyle for your child:
• Use the “rainbow test” when making a meal. Is the plate full of colorful foods or foods that are white or brown? When food is naturally colored orange, yellow, green, red or purple, nature is telling us it is packed with essential nutrients. 
• Get sneaky with it! Here are some wonderful tricks on hiding healthy in your child’s favorite food. 
Prep meals in advance to save time during a busy week. Meal preparation also helps to prevent eating out.
• Get your child involved in making a meal! Even something as simple as stirring pasta or seasoning vegetables can give children a sense of responsibility for a meal. When children know they helped make a meal, they are more likely to eat it.

What nutrients are essential for my child?
1. Protein helps build cells, produce energy and fight infection. 
Chicken, fish, beef, pork, beans, tofu, eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt

2. Iron is important for making healthy blood that carries oxygen to all parts of the body
Red meat, beans, green leafy vegetables, eggs, tuna

3. Fats have a bad reputation, but healthy fats are a wonderful source of energy for children. Cooking oil, avocado, meat, fish, nuts, cheese

4. Calcium helps build healthy bones and teeth. It is also important for nerve, muscle and heart function. Dairy products, tofu, some dry cereals

5. Vitamin A helps growth, strengthens the eyes, promotes healthy skin and aids in preventing infection. Carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, broccoli

How many calories should my child eat per day?* 
Ages 2-3: 1,000-1,400
Ages 4-5: 1,200-1,400
Ages 6-8: 1,400-1600
Ages 9-10: 1,600-1,800
Ages 11-12: 1,800-2,200
* Calorie needs vary based on gender, activity level and overall needs. Please consult your pediatrician to verify your child’s recommended caloric intake. 

Healthy eating prepares your child for a healthy life! 

Building Self-Esteem in Children

Building Self-Esteem in Children

Written by: Kayla Polk

“I’ll never make the basketball team.”
“I am not smart enough to compete in the spelling bee.”
“I never do anything right.”

Do any of these phrases sound familiar? If so, this might be a sign your child is struggling with low self-esteem. Self-esteem is how a person thinks about themselves, and it impacts a variety of factors in children and adolescents, including physical health, coping strategies, interactions with peers, mental health and education. We all deal with low self-esteem at different times in our lives, and as parents, you’ll likely see your child struggle with this too. Below are a few ways to help your child build their self-esteem.

Tips for Building Self-Esteem
1. Provide Support. Research shows that parental support affects self-esteem, especially for girls. Support can include providing more praise than criticism, providing opportunities for children to communicate openly and honestly with you, spending quality time with your child and displaying physical affection. Encourage your child’s interests and help them find their talents.

2. Encourage physical activity.  Research shows positive, short-term effects of physical activity on self-esteem in children.Along with the other important benefits of physical activity, encouraging your child to be physically active may also help to boost their self-esteem. Find a fun activity the whole family can participate in to encourage your child’s involvement in physical activity while also spending time together as a family. Children who see their parents or siblings participate in and enjoy physical activities are more likely to participate themselves. Encourage taking part in sports if your child seems interested, or provide active toys for your child to play with, such as jump ropes, balls or bicycles.

3. Praise a child’s efforts, not just the successes. We have all been there: we didn’t come in first place, we didn’t get the job we tried so hard to get, we didn’t get the A+ grade we hoped for, and so forth. Our efforts are just as important as the ending result, and self-esteem is not just about succeeding all the time. Mistakes can help children learn and grow. Talk openly with your child about their mistakes and how they can learn from them for the future. Praise a child’s efforts, progress and attitude as they’re trying to complete a task. For example, “I’m proud of you for working so hard on this spelling homework!”

4. Create actionable goals. You can create goals for your child to try and achieve in various ways. These goals can be related to school, homework, activities outside of school or chores at home, for example. Once you create a goal with your child, you can talk about what skills or steps need to be taken to reach that end goal. Maybe your child wants to score a goal during their upcoming soccer season. Create a plan with your child on how that goal can be achieved. Remember to celebrate your child’s efforts toward the goal as well as the success! Another idea is to create a reward chart with various chores and tasks, which will allow your child to visibly see what goals they can reach and when they accomplish them. This can also help your child to feel more involved in the family and allow them to feel proud for being able to contribute!

5. Teach by example. Children naturally imitate what they observe. Try to model strong self-esteem but also allow your child to see you deal with struggles and conflicts, as this is completely normal throughout life. Don’t pretend to be perfect, but tackle your struggles with positivity and perseverance. Allow your child to see that you believe in yourself.

Here are a few activities you can do with your child to help strengthen their self-esteem. These activities require only a few materials, such as pens, markers and paper.