Yesterday was a day of reflection.
Liz and I deliver a lot of Mindset Motivation sessions across schools, particularly with year 6 classes, with their run up to SATs and moving to high school. Yesterday was slightly different, being the third session with a small group of Year 4 and 5 children, with a focus on negative self talk.
I've delivered this session before and can guess the responses from the children, but yesterday was different, yesterday really threw me and made me remember why developing mindsets needs to play such a big part in our education system. One child in particular, came happily enough, but before I had even started the session, the tone was set. It really is amazing what some children say to themselves at times.
"My brain is useless." "I'm no good at this." "I'm a complete failure."
All in one session. All in the space of 30 minutes. This was a real challenge for me, thinking, is it attention seeking? Has he had an upset this morning? Does he not enjoy the session with me?
The reality was, that is was none of this and as teachers, it's hard to know how to respond in the moment, at the time. "We've got Maths now, let's crack on."
When we really know we should be addressing this. Tick tock, tick tock, time is rushing ahead and I have 30 other children waiting for me. It can be a struggle to address this effectively and with care. I get it, I've been there, I've felt that pressure.
However, what I've come to realise, is if we can spend a bit of time on it, drip feed the same messages, there will be, maybe slowly at first, a change.
In that moment, I took a breathe, stepped back and remembered, our brains are wired to think negatively - it's in our survival system, thousands of years of evolution has created this pattern to stop us from getting hurt. However, the more we say these negative thoughts, the stronger they become in our brains, the more they become our truth.
We have a choice.
Rewiring our thoughts takes time and effort, but if we think more positively and repeat these thoughts, they become our truth.
I spent time discussing this with the child I was working with, you could see the cogs turning. He even apologised for making everyone else hear his thoughts (Bless him!)
No need for apologies, time to change and grow. He thought carefully as I asked him to change his thoughts. This is what he came up with:
"My brain is amazing." "I can improve at this." "I'm amazing and unique."
Did I make him growth mindset, did I heck, but I just gave him a gentle nudge in the right direction. Imagine if as teachers, carers, adults we spent time doing this with children all the time. The nudge in the right direction would be HUGE!
Next time you or someone you know experiences a negative thought, S.O.S. Stop - Recognise you're having a negative dialogue Observe - Think about how it's making you feel as well as how it's impacting on those around you. Shift - Turn your negative into a positive😊
Be in control of your fixed mindset, don't let it control you.