Grow On

If there’s one thing that Motherhood has taught me, it’s this: ever since our son was born, our entire Family has embarked on a thematic journey towards ongoing Growth.

Growth can be experienced in the most unexpected ways. It comes in all shapes and sizes, and practically everyone is on board. Knowingly or unknowingly, the concept of Growth is common ground to Dads, Moms and Kids globally. And, oh, how amazingly powerful it is to own such a concept!

When we talk about Growth, we generally refer to two things:

  • Physical Growth, as in Baby gaining weight and height, or Mom having her hip size revamped as labor approaches (thus preventing her from ever using her favorite pair of skinny jeans – true story), and
  • Mental Growth, i.e. both Baby and Parents obtaining new Knowledge, Skills and Abilities that reshape their developing perspectives on a cognitive and social level

As you easily come to understand, Growth is an integral part of Parenting. Acquainting ourselves with that concept is, perhaps, the first Lesson Learnt for any new Parent. Any type of Growth is expected, required, and overall welcome: even Mom’s new hip size! Moms and Dads eventually come to grasp the concept so well that, sooner or later, they become naturals I’m facilitating Growth. Feeling skeptical? Let’s dive in…

First off, there’s Growth Spurts. You know, those weird long phases when your kids appear to be overall cranky, clingy and crying, just weeks before they make a significant step forward in their development? Perhaps the best-known spurt takes place during puberty, and it’s widely known because the manifestation is so terribly strong. But long before that frustrating era of weird clothing and loud music behind closed doors, many many Growth Spurts and respective Developmental Leaps precede.

The works of Dutch behavioral biologists Frans Plooij and Hetty van de Rijt (who were also husband and wife) have helped us understand that numerous Growth Spurts and respective Developmental Leaps occur as a child grows. Plooij and van de Rijt account for 10 Leaps before age 2, each one as unique as ever, and all gradually contributing to a Child’s Physical and Mental development.

As mentioned in their respective book titled Wonder Weeks, Plooij and van de Rijt teach us that Kids gradually acquaint themselves with a world of changing sensations as soon as Week 5, and gradually develop a deep understanding of patterns, smooth transitions, events, relationships, categories, sequences, programs and principles, before they grow enough to be able to perceive the world as a system by Week 75.

If, by any chance, this is the first time you hear about the concept of Growth Spurts and Leaps, I encourage you to spend some time and acquaint yourself with the work of Plooij and van de Rijt: it will save you both time and frustration as you deal with your kid’s developing behavior. You can find a quick review of first year’s Leaps here.

Photo: Samuel Zeller (Unsplash)

So, what does all this tell us about the concept of Growth? That it’s gradual, that it builds upon previous achievements steadily and surely, and that it’s bread and butter for Mom and Dad who are there from day one to witness and support it in their Kids. Whether it’s those baby steps, or holding a pencil for the first time, Families acknowledge and cultivate a particular mindset around Growth: that the more you practice, the quicker the progress. Just like that Growth Mindset they often discuss in Design Thinking or Coaching seminars.

Stanford’s Carol Dweck, perhaps the absolute expert on motivation, personality and development, would argue that achieving once’s potential relies on hard work, learning, training and doggedness (she refers to that as a Growth Mindset) rather than solely betting on one’s innate abilities like intelligence (what she calls a Fixed Mindset). You can find out more about it in her 2006 book titled “Mindset: The new psychology of success”. I am a Growth Mindset enthusiast, but don’t just take my word on it. Let’s give it a second thought around.

Had the Fixed Mindset been the golden standard for Growth, us Parents wouldn’t need to lift a finger in Baby development; we’d simply wait and see how the manifestation of our Kid’s innate traits, like their intelligence, makes (or breaks) their potential. If it so happened we were granted with “a smart kid” he or she would instantly figure out what needed to be done, and everything would progress with a blink of an eye. But everyday parenting is so radically different, isn’t it?

Instead, on a daily basis, you are actively engaged. You are there. Far more that a mere spectator, you set the stage and provide your Kids with numerous opportunities to:

  • Learn something new
  • Work hard and put forth effort
  • Practice new skills
  • Talk about how they are feeling, and work through their “big emotions”
  • Persist when something gets hard for them and encourage them to try different strategies
  • Take on challenges
  • Learn from their mistakes, and try again
  • Solve problems
  • Teach you about what they are learning
  • Talk about what they are learning
  • Use multiple senses at the same time to learn something (like drawing, explaining, demonstrating or acting out)
  • Play

So, Momma, all Kids eventually figure things out, little by little. All Children grow, inch by inch. But you and the Hubby aren’t just there to capture those (lovely, I’m sure) birthday photos. You get to feel to your gut how the Growth Mindset is, actually, the invisible tenant in your Family house. That secret catalyst empowering your little one’s Mental and Physical development. You own and acknowledge the Growth Mindset, even if you don’t realize it, or are too into your daily routine to see the big picture. Here it is. Blatantly obvious and, yet, oftentimes overlooked.

As for you, my dear Recruiter or Hiring Manager, here’s an additional perspective to take into consideration when interviewing Parents. Why not bring a quick check-in of that Mom’s Mindset into your discussion? When was the last time she saw mistakes as temporary setbacks waiting to be overcome? Does she enjoy the process of practicing as part of getting good at something? Ask her to reminisce her entire life, not just her office stories. I bet my hat you will gather enough data to conclude towards a strong Growth Mindset experienced in (perhaps) the most unexpected of places.

Grow on with your Mindset, Momma. You got this!

Featured Photo: Nikola Jovanovic (Unsplash)

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