• Raffi Bandarian

It Takes a Village With Positive Mindsets to Raise a Child

Updated: Jun 26, 2019

The needs of children with learning disabilities mandate that parents, teachers, and all other professionals possess a set of positive “mindsets.” According to Dr. Robert B. Brooks, “mindsets” are “assumptions and expectations we hold about ourselves and others that play a major role in directing our behaviors.”

Adults who possess positive mindsets will demonstrate patience, understanding, and efficacy. They will hold the child’s learning in the highest regard. At times, feelings of despair, trepidation, and failure overwhelm a learning disabled child’s daily life. Demonstrating positive mindsets for the struggling child is essential. Having an adult who looks at a child with compassion and esteem helps to offset a child’s difficulties.

Individuals with positive mindsets exhibit several important attributes. Educators with positive mindsets never punish a child for “not trying enough,” but verbally reward them for the smallest of progress.

They also never give up on a child, but work within the child’s limits to try to slowly expand their learning horizons. Adults with positive mindsets who interact with children can gently push them to achieve their potential while making the process of learning fun, engaging, and hopeful.

These individuals believe that if something is not working or is ineffective, a change in the teaching methodology is required. Individuals with positive mindsets ask themselves, “What is it that I can do differently to change the situation?” rather than waiting for a child to change first. In the classroom or when working one-on-one, the informed educator is quick to try a different method of teaching when initial attempts fail. They use different modalities to convey the same meanings. Students who struggle need to be surrounded by people with positive mindsets, not only to nurture their self-esteem but for their emotional and academic growth.

One of the identifying features of individuals with positive mindsets is the ability to provide empathy. Those who possess empathy don’t feel sorry for struggling students but place themselves compassionately in the child’s situation. In conjunction, they develop communication skills that effectively convey an understanding of the child’s learning struggles. They validate and reflect by identifying what and how something is a struggle. Over time, they remind the child of the progress made by recognizing what was difficult in the past but is now easier. Finally, a sense of hope is offered to the child. A hope that they will master the skills that presents a challenge.

The ability to work hard in the face of challenges is the most promising feature for children to possess who struggle with academic and attention issues. However, this is a skill that needs to be modeled and rewarded. Resiliency best describes this attribute, which needs to be modeled so as to demonstrate that struggling students too can manage to succeed. Resiliency also offers the benefit of patience and perseverance – in other words, success may not happen immediately, but in time and with hard work. Any successes must be praised. Progress should be recognized and celebrated. Over time, as children recognize that they are learning, the rewards of working hard will be internally reinforced to drive the student to put forth the effort needed to succeed.

One of the key mindsets to possess for parents and teachers alike is to know that mistakes are bound to happen, but it is how the mistakes are managed that makes a difference. For example, a child who failed an exam can have the option of getting partial credit if he is able to redo the work correctly for homework. Children who seem to consecutively forget books can be helped by purchasing a second copy of textbooks or novels to keep at home. This strategy can be put in place as a back-up plan for emergency days. Over time, children can overcome the fear of making mistakes. In turn, they learn strategies to avoid and cope with mistakes. In other words, it’s expectable and acceptable to make mistakes as children are actively learning. Mistakes are the foundation of learning and continued development.

I prescribe an attitude of believing in the capacity of individuals with learning difficulties to overcome adversity and become resilient. This can help any child make remarkable progress both academically and emotionally.

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