I decided, yesterday, to teach the kids the word "Tenacious".
A few years ago Winnie and I read this little book called Mindset
which is about how people can either have a "fixed" or "growth'
mindset. People with a "fixed" mindset think they're good at things
because they're clever and they were mostly praised, as children, for
being clever. People with a "growth" mindset think they're good at
things because they've tried hard to learn; they were mostly praised
hard for trying hard, when they were kids. As adults they tend to be
better at learning whereas the fixed mindset folk give up when they do
something they're not good at, believing they'll never be good at it.
I, for example, gave up learning french when I first moved to Ireland
because I was very bad at it and didn't think I could do it (unlike
the others in the class who seemed to have a "gift").
So, I've decided to praise the kids for being tenacious, for having
the tenacity to keep on trying when things are tricky. I like the
irony (at least, I think it is Irony) when I tell them they are lucky
because they were born with the gift of tenacity, that they're
naturally good at it.
So .. today, I took them for a wee walk along a forestry road which is
up the hill from my parents house and on the way back I asked them if
they remembered the word I taught them the day before. They didn't so
I told them and then I explained, in kid-friendly language, why it was
such an important word and how lucky they both were to be born good at
it. This went on for a couple of minutes, with lots of ah-ha-ing from
When I finished, I asked, "What do you think of that?"
And Alice, all 6 years old worth of her, said, "I can burp the entire alphabet."
And that was the end of that.