Book Review: Mindset

Once, when my daughter was in third grade, she got her report card and was ready to celebrate her achievements for the quarter. “Fine,” I told her, “but I just want you to know that we don’t celebrate C’s in this family.”

My daughter, understandably, started crying and told me that she had worked really hard for that grade.

Ashamed, and rightfully so, I immediately backtracked and told her that OF COURSE we would celebrate her C since she had worked so hard for it and OF COURSE effort mattered, and I did know that she had tried her best.

That episode came to mind as I was reading Mindset, and I thought of several different ways I could’ve handled that conversation that wouldn’t have resulted in scarring my daughter for life and making her think her best wasn’t good enough. I would have avoided telling her how smart and bright she is (something that has actively contributed to her anxiety around school) and instead applauded her efforts when she completed a challenging task.

So, yes, this book can help parents and educators reframe the way we think and the way we speak to children (and ourselves!) about the way we approach challenges. I have learned elsewhere that changing the way I think about a situation changes the way I engage with it, and that’s basically the crux of this book.

Why only 2.5 stars? The presentation is kind of dry, though Dweck uses a lot (A LOT) of anecdotal evidence. Still, the information is accessible and the ideas are useful. If you’re trying to help someone get out of a black or white, there is only winning or losing mentality, this book may be worth a look.

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