If the world can be divided into two kinds of people, there are two types of Host Parents:
- Those who think they were born being perfectly good host parents, thankyouverymuch, and
- Those who are trying to learn how to be better host parents
By virtue of being a reader of AuPairMom, you are obviously one of that special second group.
You, dear Reader, have a Growth Mindset.
If you’ve done much reading of the parenting literature, you’ve probably come across one of my favorite perspectives on parenting & teaching children, psychologist Carol Dweck’s work on Mindsets.
In her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Dweck identifies two types of mindsets, or ways of looking at the world:
The “Fixed” Mindset
The Fixed Mindset treats your own qualities — and the qualities of others– as though they were set in stone. A person with a fixed mindset believes that her attitude, ability, and level of effort are hard wired. People with a fixed mindset focus on proving that they are good enough.
People with a fixed mindset:
- avoid challenges
- give up easily,
- ignore useful negative feedback, and
- feel threatened by the success of others.
People with a fixed mindset try very hard, but they also worry about being wrong and showing their mistakes. As a result, they tend not to learn very easily and they usually don’t achieve their full potential.
The “Growth” Mindset
The Fixed mindset treats your qualities — and the qualities of others — are something that you’ve achieved with practice and effort. These qualities can be improved or developed if you encourage and cultivate them.
People with a growth mindset
- embrace challenges,
- persist in the face of setback
- see effort as a path to master
- learn from criticism,
- find lessons and inspiration in the success of others.
Taking A Growth Mindset leads to a Triple Win for a Host Parent
What I like about the Growth Mindset idea is that we can use insights from this research to help ourselves, our au pairs, and our children. A triple win!!!
When we adopt a Growth mindset, we’re able to teach others not how to execute “correctly, ” but how to do things in a way that they learn and grow in the doing.
People often shift between one mindset and the other, depending on the situation. I know that sometimes with my au pairs, I’ve tried to really look like I knew everything — about what my girls needed, how to made a decent pie crust, or even how to take a bus from here to Queens. I’ve really wanted to look like a great parent, a kind person, a patient teacher, a driver who’s never experienced road rage.
I’ve wanted to be a good example. I’ve wanted to prove that I’m a total natural at this host parenting thing, always having an answer, always making the right choices. As if.
Somebody told me once that one of the best things you can do is
Teach your children how to be wrong graciously and how to change your mind in a way that shows you have learned.
This helps make learning, making mistakes, revising your mind all look perfectly normal.
So I learned to say — out loud and in front of other people — things like: “Well, I’ve thought it over and realized you’re right. I’ve decided to change my mind, and let you kids dress the dog in doll clothes as long as you are gentle.”
I’ve learned to say — out loud and in front of other people — things like “What do I need to learn to be able to do this better?”
Oh, and I’ve also practiced doing this in my response to challenges.
Case in point? Pulling out the manual & jumper cables and figuring out how to jump the battery of the au pair car. Right in front of my au pair. I demonstrated not only that I didn’t know everything (quel horreux!) , that I knew how to learn, and that I could be successful just by amping up my effort.
When we think about becoming better parents and better host parents, we should keep in mind that
We can become better parents through practice, reflection, conversation, and questioning.
Our kids can become better at sharing with each other, eating healthy food, making their beds.
Our au pairs can become better at challenges like listening to what the kids really need, following through on their responsibilities, and driving safely.
What’s your Host Parent Mindset? What is your Au Pair Mindset?
Over at the website for Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, there’s an online quiz that you can take to assess your own mindset.
It might be fun to ask your au pair to take it, too, and then talk with him or her about how to work together and with the kids from a growth mindset.
Step 4. Take the growth mindset action.
- Take on the challenge wholeheartedly,
- Learn from your setbacks and try again
- Hear the criticism and act on it is now in your hands.
Practice hearing both the fixed mindset voice and the growth mindset voice. Then, practice acting on the growth mindset. See how you can make it work for you.
One thing that I deeply appreciate about the conversations we have here on AuPairMom is that they almost always reflect a growth mindset.
Image: We All Fly Together, by Marissa, available for purchase on Etsy