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Positive mindset - How can I teach my child this?

Did you know that you have complete control over your own thoughts? Even though it may seem like this happens automatically, you can actually control your thoughts. You can ensure that you are more positive in life and consciously choose not to be influenced by negative thoughts / opinions / emotions.

When you learn it, you give your own children the best example to be more positive in life.

It seems that today we are increasingly confronted with negativity, making it more difficult for some children to think in a positive way. If this is the case then it is simply time to take another look and consider how it works in our children.

Thoughts are just thoughts. Positive thoughts are no different from negative thoughts. They're just clouds in the sky, sensations in your brain. You can take them very seriously and go into them endlessly, but you can also look at them more lightly and observe them calmly.

Thoughts come and go. And it's up to you to decide which thoughts you go into. If you want to develop a positive mindset, my suggestion is that you let the dark thunderclouds float by, and focus your attention on the happier white clouds.

Our way of thinking - the thinking pattern - is also referred to as a growth pattern in children. This is very impressionable and therefore easy to learn. The learning process of their thinking pattern is supported by a learning stage. In this article you can read how you can use the learning stairs to change your child's thinking pattern. The different steps are explained with the support needs of the child for each step. This way you know how to guide your child as best as possible in his learning process.

What is the learning stairs?

The learning stairs theory is based on the "Zone of Proximal Development" by Vygotsky (1978). The Zone of Proximal Development (ZNO) assumes that a child learns the most if you challenge him to do activities that are just above his own level and provide the necessary support. By knowing which step the child is on, you know what support the child needs.

The learning step shows the different steps in a learning process. Learning new skills, knowledge or new behavior does not happen by itself. It is a process in which you always take steps. The learning ladder helps children to understand that learning something new takes effort. In addition, it provides insight into the child's process and points of departure to match the child's support needs. The learning staircase makes visible which step a child takes, even if this is not visible in his work. In this way you stimulate the perseverance of children. Every step the child must dare to face setbacks. The learning process takes the child out of his comfort zone.

Need for support at the learning stairs

Keep in mind the individual differences: not everyone will start on the same step. Some children will already be motivated, others have already practiced with the task and others will already (partially) master the task. Sometimes a child moves 2 steps forward after a short explanation, while other children need longer to take a step. It is then much more relevant to look at which steps a child has taken, instead of looking at the end result.

First step: I will not do it

The child shows resistance and does not want to learn anything new. He doesn't see the point or doesn't want to step out of his safe comfort zone. Learning something new can be about any skill or behavior; no matter how small or big. For example, learning to swim, specific subject matter at school or learning new behaviour.

Support Need

Explain to the child the skill to be learned. Explain why it is nice to learn it and what it will bring to the child. Ask the child questions such as:

“What will it do you if you can do this?”

“So what is nice for you and for your environment?”

Step 2: Ik can't do it

From not wanting to not being able to is a motivational step. Your child gradually starts to get motivated and wants to learn something, but at the same time notices that it is not working at all. Your child sees what he needs to be able to do in order to learn the skill and realizes that he can't do this at all yet.

Support Need

Stimulate and motivate the child through a positive approach. for example, make a comparison with learning to walk. The child once learned to walk, but this also did not work in one go and took a lot of effort.

“It takes time and practice to learn something new. That's not a bad thing, that's part of it. Sometimes it doesn't feel good, but if you persevere you will notice that it succeeds and you will certainly feel proud.”

Stap 3: Ik want to do it

From negative thinking ("not") to positive ("will"). The child wants to show commitment to learn the skill to do.

Support Need

Reinforce the child's motivation and support by complimenting the effort the child shows.

"I see you're eager to learn, that's great!"

"Try it your way."

Step 4: How should I do it?

Your child begins to think in action. He finds out it's not as easy as he thought. Your child will look for strategies to learn it.

Support Need

Ask the child for his ideas for dealing with the task. In what different ways can he approach the task? What would be his first step? What does he think works? You can also provide supporting tips for learning strategies yourself.

"What do you think to do?

"What could happen then?"

Step 5: I'm going to try

Your child perseveres and takes the step to try. It won't work right away, but by trying it in different ways, your child will learn more and more.

Very important here is acknowledging feelings that come up: how does it feel to go over it?

Support Need

Reinforce perseverance. For example, say:

“It's great that you keep trying, that's how you'll learn!”

"How does it feel to go for it?"

Step 6: I'm going to try it once more

Your child notices that it doesn't work right away and can become demotivated: “I'll never succeed!”. Support the child and offer him help if he finds he needs it.

Support Need

Acknowledge the insecure feelings the child gets in the learning process and remind the child that learning something new can be difficult. Then motivate the child to continue. Also give the child a tip if he needs it. For example: “Try it a different way”,

"Too bad, it doesn't work right away and you had hoped that."

"Learning something new takes time and effort. Keep going, you're already there!"

“Ask for help if you can't do it alone”

"Try again tomorrow when you're fresh."

Step 7: I'm going to do it!

The child is ready! He or she gets the feeling that it will work after all.

Support Need

The child gets a positive feeling again and now mainly needs it to share his enthusiasm. Reinforce the child's good feeling by listening and saying that you see it.

"I see you can do it, very nice"

Step 8: Yes! I did it!

It worked! You have mastered a new skill. This gives your child the confidence that he can learn something difficult next time, as long as he perseveres. Your child develops self-confidence as a result.

Support Need

Compliment the child's effort and perseverance. So instead of saying: "You can cycle well now" you say: "You have persevered when the going got tough!".

Reflect with the child on the learning process. Ask questions such as:

“Remember when you just couldn't take it anymore, what did you do then?”

“What else helped to persevere?”

“What has this perseverance yielded?”

For every door that closes, at least one opens. The trick is just to take that perspective. It gets easier with some distance from your thoughts, and it gets easier with practice anyway.

Assume that you can find something positive in every event, and focus on that. That's difficult at times – but that doesn't make the exercise any less rewarding.

The better you get at this, the sunnier the world starts to get around you. You see less reason to be negative, because there are always aspects to be found to feel grateful for. Pretty nice.


Carol S. Dweck (2018) Mindset, verander je manier van denken om je doelen te behalen. Amsterdam: Swp, Uitgeverij B.V.

Vygotsky (1978) in P. H. Miller (2010). Theories of developmental psychology. New York: Worth Publishers. - Groeimindset.

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