Teaching our kids, and ourselves, that ‘if you think you can’t, you’ll be right’

This essay first appeared in the Washington Post. To view the full essay, click here.

Excerpt from the essay…

When we believe that our abilities can improve with effort, we have a growth mindset. By exploring the stories we tell ourselves, Brian explained that we can shift our internal dialog from believing that our abilities are fixed, to trusting that our abilities are malleable. In his TEDx talk, Brian shared that a teacher once told him that her school had a scheduling mix-up where children who were not believed to be capable of honors-level science work were accidentally placed in the honors science class. The students did well. The teacher told Brian, “Maybe ‘honors’ is a mindset all children can have.”

Brian reminds us that “struggle is normal and something we all experience.” In his talk, Brian discussed a Texas study in which eighth-graders were assigned mentors. One group was mentored about the dangers of using drugs. The other group’s mentors focused on helping their students have a growth mindset. Those students were told that “the brain, like any other muscle, can grow with effort.” At the end of the year, the students mentored about the value of a growth mindset performed better than those mentored about the dangers of drugs.

To help our children push on when they want to quit, we must change our own mindset and encourage our children to do so as well.

As I rewatched his TEDx talk this week, I was reminded of the student I had met the summer before. I will return as a faculty adviser next summer and work with hundreds of other students struggling with their own fixed mindsets. Could I, too, mentor the students to shift their internal dialogues and to develop growth mindsets? Could I shift my own mindset and that of my children?

Brian has left an indelible mark on public education, and he has inspired the next generation of teachers and students alike. But as we mourn the loss of our friend, we know his lessons will live on through those lives touched by his work and his kindness. The teachers he inspired will encourage their students to do so as well.

“Smart is not who we are; it is what we do.”

Source: www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2017/03/24/teaching-our-kids-and-ourselves-that-if-you-think-you-cant-youll-be-right/?utm_term=.39c70232835a

Rape Culture – Featured on NBC’s TODAY and the Washington Post

Last year, I wrote an essay with Dr. Jennifer Sager about parenting against rape culture for The Washington Post.  

We explained:

There is no way to inoculate our children from becoming victims or perpetrators of rape. But parents can help their children recognize and avoid the erroneous and harmful attitudes surrounding sex, power, control, and coercion. Teach children to respect their bodies, instincts, and emotions. At the same time, give them tools to recognize and respect the same thing in others. Perhaps by doing so, we can shift the dialog and begin to create a culture that fosters healthy boundaries and ends all forms sexual violence.

The essay was shared widely on social media this week, and we were interviewed on the topic by NBC’s TODAY. A link to the article, written by Allison Slater Tate, with our quotes on the topic can be viewed here.

“After the past week’s focus on the sexual assault case at Stanford, Steinberg said it is crucial that parents acknowledge that rape culture does exist and the part that parents can play in fighting it. ‘We owe it to our children to shift this culture,’ she said. ‘We all want our children to enter adulthood armed with the best tools to steer their life’s course.'”

How to parent against rape culture (for one thing, start young) — First published in the Washington Post

co authored by Dr. Jennifer Sager, Ph.D.

This post was first published in The Washington Post.

In the news, we’ve recently been bombarded with outrageous examples of male dominance, sexual control and coercion, and the objectification of women in very public forums. For example, a fraternity was recently suspended in Virginia after hanging a sign off their front porch that read, “Hope your baby girl is ready for a good time.”

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School Discipline: Standing Up for All Children in the Public School System

Two kindergartners were sent to the principal’s office during their second week of school. One hit a little girl after she refused to share a toy. The other smacked a little boy after he cut to the front in the lunch line.

At the principal’s office, each child was asked what happened in their respective confrontations. Both admitted they used their hands, and both knew they were in the wrong. As would happen in many American schools, both boys were issued two-day suspensions.

One child, Bobby, had been removed from his parents’ care and lived with a foster family. The other child, Sam, lived with his parents, both college educated and involved at the school.

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Set Up to Fail : High Stakes Testing in Public Schools

Imagine being a nine year old child. Picture yourself studying for a test, walking into class, feeling confident you prepared the best you could. How would you feel if after finishing the test you only understood half the questions? Would your confidence be shaken?

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A Roadmap Towards Work-Life Balance

Last week, I found myself at a coffee shop grading papers. I couldn’t help but overhear two young college students talk about career options and their dreams for work-life balance. It was so hard not to interject. There is so much I want to tell them. But where to begin?

I remember being in their shoes. A third year law student, I thought I knew so much. I wanted to feel passionate about work. I wanted to make a difference. I was sure I would make good money. And I was confident I would seamlessly transition into motherhood a few years down the road.

My confidence was misplaced. While I left law school armed with knowledge and enthusiasm, I had little in my arsenal to prepare me for the realities of balancing work and life.

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