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Give Your Child a Growth Mindset

One of the gifts we receive by being around young children is the opportunity to look at the world through their eyes with wonder and excitement. Observe a fifteen month old watching his first snowfall, or a toddler visiting the zoo and suddenly you see nature with fresh eyes. Accompany a teenager on his inaugural drive or take a ten-year-old to her first wedding. Soak in their enthusiasm as they participate for the first time in an activity you take for granted, giving you a new appreciation for life.

This Shabbos (Sabbath) is a special week for Jewish communities around the world. Known as Shabbos HaChodesh, or the Sabbath of the Month, in addition to the regular weekly Torah portion read in synagogues on Saturday, we will also read an additional section from Exodus 12:1 - 12:20 containing the very first commandment the Jewish people were given as a nation, which was to set up a lunar calendar beginning each yearly cycle with the spring month of Nissan and to mark the first day of each month as a celebratory day known as Rosh Chodesh. Every year we read this portion on the Shabbos before the first day (Rosh Chodesh) of Nissan, which this year falls on Tuesday, April 9.  

The beginning of the month, when the moon begins its cycle of growth once again, is a time of renewal. Day in and day out we get acclimated to life as it is, until Rosh Chodesh comes along to jostle us out of our ruts, to open us up to a new appreciation of our lives as they are as well as to the possibility of growth and change that lies ahead. Linking our calendar to the moon gives us a monthly jolt of energy reminding us that we aren’t static or stuck in our present situation. Just as the new moon is hidden on Rosh Chodesh, yet grows each night afterwards, we’re reminded that we too can be greater tomorrow than we are today. 

A person who feels limited and stuck in their reality with no hope for change is living a life of victimhood, very similar to that of a slave who truly has no control over his destiny or choices. The mark of a free man is the power of self-determination. Free people know they make choices that determine their future and they constantly yearn for a better and brighter tomorrow. The commandment of the New Moon was given immediately before the Jewish people left servitude and became a free nation. And the month that heads our yearly cycle, Nissan, is the month of the Exodus, wherein we celebrate Pesach (Passover). If one hopes to transition from a mentality of victimhood to one of empowerment, the first step is to open your mind and heart to the concept of renewal and growth. Therefore the first commandment on the road from slavery to liberation had to be one connecting the Jewish people to the moon’s cycle of regeneration. 

While young children naturally embody a growth mindset, it is up to a parent to ensure that our older children retain it. Every baby falls repeatedly while learning to walk, yet no baby loses hope or labels themselves a bad walker. Contrast that with older children, who often constrain themselves with limiting labels and attitudes when they meet challenges that initially seem insurmountable.

Just as we applaud each effort of the baby who struggles to stand only to plop right back down, we should recognize our older children for the effort they put into challenges instead of their results. When we notice our children attempting something difficult for them, let them know we see and admire their ambitious efforts. Parents can allow children to take risks and try to achieve more than we think they are able to.

Springtime is a season of renewal and growth in the physical world and also in the spiritual world. It is the time of Passover, the holiday of redemption, and the time when we remind ourselves that we are connected to the lunar cycle. The beginning of the month of Nissan reminds us that just as the moon renews and grows from nothing to a full circle, we too have the power of growth and the ability to move out of our current realities into bigger and better ones.

This time of year inculcates us with a growth mindset reminding us that transformation is our destiny and the power to renew and change is inherent in each one of us and our children.

Give Your Child a Growth Mindset with These Five Tips

  • Praise Efforts Over Accomplishments. Say “I noticed you studied hard for your math test” instead of “Great job getting an A on math.”

  • Teach the Power of "Yet": Encourage the use of the word "yet" to emphasize that abilities and skills can be developed over time. For example, if a child says, "I can't do this," encourage them to add "yet" to the end, shifting the mindset to a growth-oriented one.

  • Model a Growth Mindset: Children learn by example, so it's important for parents to model a growth mindset themselves. Share your own struggles and successes, demonstrating that setbacks are opportunities for growth and learning.

  • Encourage Learning from Mistakes: Instead of avoiding failure, teach children to see it as a natural part of the learning process. Help them understand that mistakes are valuable opportunities for growth and learning, and encourage them to reflect on what they can learn from their failures.

  • Provide Challenges and Support: Offer children opportunities to tackle challenges that are just beyond their current abilities, providing support and encouragement along the way. This helps them develop resilience and confidence in their ability to overcome obstacles.

Since October 7, I have dedicated each week's article to the memory of a person murdered by Hamas terrorists in Israel. Today though marks 180 days since October 7, 180 days with hostages still languishing in tunnels deep underground while the world ignores their plight. Today's article is dedicated to all the hostages captured by Hamas, those that are alive and those who have died in captivity. In the language of the Pesach (Passover) Haggadah, may Hashem bring them from slavery to freedom, from sorrow to joy, from mourning to [celebration of] a festival, from darkness to great light, and from servitude to redemption. The picture above shows Shiri Bibas, along with her two sons Ariel and Kfir who were abducted from Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7 by Hamas terrorists.

Our hearts hurt for them, for all the hostages, and for all their families who are anxiously awaiting good news.


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