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One little change in how you talk to your kids can help them be more successful.

It's so simple, but a lot of people have no idea it's even a thing.

One little change in how you talk to your kids can help them be more successful.

Why didn't anybody tell me this?

When expecting a child, a lot of parents tend to read anything they can get their hands on to figure out what to expect during pregnancy and the first few years of life. They tell you how to feed your baby, how often to take them to the doctor, and how to prevent choking tragedies and all kinds of other hazards.


Ideas about learning start early. Image by Donnie Ray Jones/Flickr.

But very few people are spreading the word about one simple thing you can do to help your child be successful.

Dr. Carol Dweck, a researcher who is pioneering a shift in how we view motivation in humans, is one of the few evangelizing about how to instill a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset. Her talk on this was recently turned into an RSA Animate video. Another public figure trying to spread the word is Sal Khan from Khan Academy.

The quickest way to explain what it means to instill a growth mindset is: Praise your child explicitly for how capable they are of learning rather than telling them how smart they are.

For instance, here are how some conversations would play out to instill one type of mindset over the other:

FIXED MINDSET: "You read that sentence in the book — you are so smart!"

GROWTH MINDSET: "You read that sentence in the book — you worked so hard to learn how to do that and now you can! Congratulations!"

FIXED MINDSET: "You finished that puzzle so quickly — what a smart kid!"

GROWTH MINDSET: "I'm sorry I wasted your time with an easy puzzle — let me find another one that will give us a bigger challenge. I know we can do it!"

FIXED MINDSET: "You got an 80% on your test." (And then moving on to the next chapter immediately.)

GROWTH MINDSET: "You got an 80% on your test; that means you are well on your way to knowing this stuff! If you review the ones you missed and take the test again tomorrow, I bet you'll get closer to a 100%."

It's a subtle shift in messaging, but the difference it makes can be huge.

When you change your approach to praise, you're changing the achievement marker (reading a sentence or getting an 80% on a test) from a value judgment on the inherent intellect of the child to a series of messages throughout your child's life that instead places value on the process of learning.

It means a child's self-worth and confidence in trying things for the first time doesn't become tied to how well they can immediately perform or how inherently smart they are because they know they have more than one chance to prove themselves.

This isn't just a theory or some New-Age hippie-dippie parenting trend.

Through field research with a class of seventh graders, Dweck has begun proving that a growth mindset can make a significant difference. She and her team tracked a group of kids who entered their school year with almost identical test scores and noted which kids displayed growth mindset attitudes at the beginning and which ones held the beliefs of a fixed mindset.

Check out how the kids' grades fared over two years:


The top line is for the kids with the growth mindset, and the bottom line is for the kids with the fixed mindset. GIF via RSA Animate.

Why such a clear difference, though?

As Dweck explains in the RSA Animate video:

"We measured their mindsets — we saw whether they believed intelligence was fixed or could be developed. … They had entered seventh grade with just about identical achievement test scores. But by the end of the first term, their grades jumped apart and continued to diverge over the next two years. The only thing that differed were their mindsets. ...

They had completely different goals in school. The number one goal for kids in the fixed mindset is 'look smart at all times and at all costs.' So their whole lives are oriented toward avoiding tasks that might show a deficiency.

But in a growth mindset, where they believe intelligence can be developed, their cardinal rule is 'LEARN at all times and at all costs.'"



How early should you start instilling a growth mindset and is it ever too late?

If you think you can do it, you can. Photo by John Morgan/Flickr.

Khan Academy's Sal Khan says it's never too early and it's never too late. He's passionate about providing resources to all children so they can learn, but he realizes that they only use the resources if they're excited and empowered to believe they can learn.

There are a couple of ways you can go about promoting a growth mindset, as Khan tells Upworthy:

A growth mindset can be instilled from the beginning.

"I think you can start from as soon as they can understand language. I think children naturally have a growth mindset. What I think happens very early, and maybe earlier than the school system is we project onto our kids where we say, 'Look she's so smart, she did that,' and that can be good positive reinforcement but it has a risk of the child getting addicted to that type of feedback so they don't want to take a risk where they might not get that feedback...or they don't want to shatter their parents' perception of them being smart."

And it can be practiced and introduced in later years, too.

"It gets a little harder but you can. Everyone has a growth mindset about some things and a fixed mindset about other things. I might have a growth mindset already about math or science or academics because I've experienced it multiple times and know that if I struggle, that the pain will pay off. But in basketball, as a kid, I probably had a pretty fixed mindset. I didn't touch a basketball until I was 11. [I thought] 'All the other kids are so much better, I'm never going to be [like them] ...' I had a fixed mindset but it was only in high school that I thought ... if I go out there and keep practicing and put myself out there and take myself out of my comfort zone ... and it pays off."

Whether you are a parent or plan on being one, are a teacher or a learner, or maybe even if you just struggle with impostor syndrome, this video may be the key to unlocking potential you've been feeling blocked from.

You can learn anything. Spread the news.

Watch Dr. Carol Dweck's RSA Animate video below:

Photo courtesy of Macy's
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Macy's and Girls Inc. believe that all girls deserve to be safe, supported, and valued. However, racial disparities continue to exist for young people when it comes to education levels, employment, and opportunities for growth. Add to that the gender divide, and it's clear to see why it's important for girls of color to have access to mentors who can equip them with the tools needed to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers.

Anissa Rivera is one of those mentors. Rivera is a recent Program Manager at the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc., a nonprofit focusing on the holistic development of girls ages 5-18. The goal of the organization is to provide a safe space for girls to develop long-lasting mentoring relationships and build the skills, knowledge, and attitudes to thrive now and as adults.

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Inspiring young women from all backgrounds is why Macy's has continued to partner with Girls Inc. for the second year in a row. The partnership will support mentoring programming that offers girls career readiness, college preparation, financial literacy, and more. Last year, Macy's raised over $1.3M for Girls Inc. in support of this program along with their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programming for more than 26,000 girls. Studies show that girls who participated are more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, score higher on standardized math tests, and be more equipped for college and campus life.

Thanks to mentors like Rivera, girls across the country have the tools they need to excel in school and the confidence to change the world. With your help, we can give even more girls the opportunity to rise up. Throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases or donate online to support Girls Inc. at Macys.com/MacysGives.

Who runs the world? Girls!

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Over the past six years, it feels like race relations have been on the decline in the U.S. We've lived through Donald Trump's appeals to America's racist underbelly. The nation has endured countless murders of unarmed Black people by police. We've also been bombarded with viral videos of people calling the police on people of color for simply going about their daily lives.

Earlier this year there was a series of incidents in which Asian-Americans were the targets of racist attacks inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The answer lies in Girls Inc., a national nonprofit serving girls ages 5-18 in more than 350 cities across North America. Since first forming in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War, they've been on a mission to inspire girls to kick butt and step into leadership roles — today and in the future.

This is why Macy's has committed to partnering with Girls Inc. and making it easy to support their mission. In a national campaign running throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases to the nearest dollar or donate online to support Girls Inc. and empower girls throughout the country.


Kaylin St. Victor, a senior at Brentwood High School in New York, is one of those girls. She became involved in the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc. when she was in 9th grade, quickly becoming a role model for her peers.

Photo courtesy of Macy's

Within her first year in the organization, she bravely took on speaking opportunities and participated in several summer programs focused on advocacy, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). "The women that I met each have a story that inspires me to become a better person than I was yesterday," said St. Victor. She credits her time at Girls Inc. with making her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin — confidence that directly translates to high achievement in education and the workforce.

In 2020, Macy's helped raise $1.3 million in support of their STEM and college and career readiness programming for more than 26,000 girls. In fact, according to a recent study, Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, to be interested in STEM careers, and to perform better on standardized math tests.

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