As early as preschool, people start asking children what they want to be when they grow up. And while there is certainly nothing wrong (and a lot right) with encouraging children to think about their futures and consider careers that might interest them, this question fails to convey several important things.
First, the question is asking about what career your child wants to have, but a job is only part of the story.
A better question might be—"Who do you want to be when you grow up?"—because it evokes thought about the myriad of components that factor into who we are as humans.
"Who do you want to be?" prompts thought about not just career, but also family, values, hobbies, lifestyle, and legacy. It starts a conversation about how your kids want to show up in the world, how they want to be perceived by others, and how they will try to balance all of the things that will matter to them.
The second and most important thing the question fails to convey is the process of...
Psychologist Carol Dweck coined the terms “fixed mindset” and “growth mindset,” which describe the beliefs people have about learning and intelligence.
A simplified explanation of these terms is this: Those with a fixed mindset believe that intelligence is fixed. A person is smart or not smart. A person is good at math or bad at math.
Those with a growth mindset believe that they can get smarter or better at math.
The latter belief—the growth mindset belief—encourages people to put in extra time and effort.
Those with a growth mindset understand that they can learn and achieve more.
Adopting a growth mindset is important for children because it allows them to move past their current challenges and grow. It shows them that they are not stuck in a box, but rather can put in time and effort to achieve something that is important to them.
We can help children believe in their ability to learn and grow by asking them to share stories about things they have...