I remember trying to learn Grade 10 math. Misery. The new symbols. The backward looking numbers. The ways that certain numbers were supposed to fit into other numbers that had added on extensions and lines was just, well, I had no idea. I needed to understand WHY and HOW and EVERYTHING before accepting anything at all. If it didn’t fully and completely and utterly make sense, my brain seemed to shut down, blocking out all learning.
My even keel dad was patiently unimpressed as he sat at the kitchen table with me night after night, trying to figure it out himself so that he could teach it to me in all its complicated glory.
I didn’t go on to be a mathematician.
But I did learn something.
I wanted to understand the complete picture RIGHT NOW. I couldn’t accept doing the first step unless I understood the last step also. This tactic, while learning calculus, is recipe for frustration and failure.
What I eventually adopted was the word that is thrown around in parenting circles and growth mindset theorists today.
The power of yet, they call it. I didn’t coin it, it’s all over the place. I can’t do it…yet. I don’t understand how that answer comes from that equation…yet. I can’t do the back handspring…yet. I can’t write my name…yet. I can’t poop on the toilet…yet. I can’t face that boy who broke up with me at school yesterday…yet.
Our kids face so many can’ts. Frustration comes quickly and easily. I see it in my kids often. I can’t do it, my oldest will say. And immediately her brain turns off, away, and outta there. Call it self-fulfilling prophecy or call it attitude. Either way, she blocks herself from growth until realizing the “yet” of it all.
The brain is remarkable, changeable, adaptable. It can learn. Effort makes it stronger.
Check out this great link for lots of information about the science behind the brain and its ability to grow and change. https://www.mindsetworks.com/science/#
So the next time your kids are struggling with, well, anything related to their potential growth, let’s remember that they are able to learn and change. We can provide the environment of support and freedom to help them learn that although they may not have succeeded in their end goal YET, they can put forth the effort to reach important goals.