How Kids Think

My son said “Why does God have to do that?” the other day when our friends canceled our pool date with a sick child.  It struck me in the heart.  

As I work and talk with parents, I hear phrases like “He blames everyone but himself,” or, “It’s always someone else’s fault.”  As parents we want our children to be responsible for themselves and their happiness.  We don’t want them to give it away to circumstance.

But, that’s not easy.  

Here’s another example:  One of my clients has a dyslexic son.  He struggles at school.  He sees the letters and even the angles of the words from a completely different perspective.  He used to cry in the mornings, overwhelmed by school anxiety. I worked with his mom to implement accommodations and testing through the district and this year has gone better.  But, he still struggles with questions like, “How come I can’t read like everyone else?”  It’s easy to start a pity party when things are more difficult, but that doesn’t mean we allow our kids to wallow in it.

Photo by Olya Kuzovkina on Unsplash

I have another client whose son is “lazy.”  He has no motivation to do what is asked, he’s been kicked out of private school, and would rather game online than do anything else.  His mom wants to provide motivation but she’s struggling to get him going.  A lot of days, she can’t even wake him up in the mornings (or afternoons).  But, lately, he’s getting up at 5am to build designer cabinets for a friend’s business.

So, how did we lessen the dyslexic child’s anxiety and motivate the aloof teen?  Well, what if I told you I can predict what your child is thinking?  There is a way to identify the pattern that produces a lack of motivation, anxiety, aloofness and anger.  And, not only can you identify the thought pattern, but once you know the pattern, there is a way to change it.  There is a method to move, for example, from unmotivated to taking initiative.  Your child can go from anxious to calm and in control.

So, how do I know this?  Well, I’ve worked with a lot of children in my career as an educator and so has my partner, Ava Sharma. After working with children you start to see their thinking.  You know which child won’t answer in class because he’s afraid to get it wrong, versus the one who won’t participate because she’s defiant.  

I want you to look at the chart below and tell me where you see your child?  Ava also spent years working with children tutoring math and after a while she was able to identify a child’s mindset.  

There are 4 fixed mindsets children adopt when struggling: Defeated, Doubtful, Unmotivated and Rejecting. 

Can you find your child there?  Think about when she’s doing something she’s not good at or that is difficult for her.  That’s where one of these mindsets will show up.  Did you identify which mindset she has?  Are you still not sure?  

You can take this quiz to help:

Those 4 mindsets are examples of “fixed mindsets.” 

Identifying which fixed mindset they have is the first step to helping them move to a growth mindset!  What is a growth mindset?  It’s this:

The growth mindset is the key to opening up the mind to discovery, accountability, and awareness of our own locus of control.  A lot of the fixed mindsets have us stuck, blaming circumstances, people and life for our lack of success. That’s why my son blamed God for his missed pooltime playdate.  That’s why an unmotivated teen blames his teacher or his lack of school friends for his poor grades and zero academic confidence.  

If either of these children embraced the growth mindset he might say, “Hey Mom, who else can we invite to the pool?”  Or, “I’m going to talk to my teacher at lunch tomorrow to see how I can improve my grade.”   

Doesn’t the growth mindset sound amazing?  If you’d like to learn more about the mindsets, Ava and I have put together a free course called “How to Bring out the Best in Your Kids Academically.”  Because you’re a regular blog reader, I’m providing free, 5-day access to the course here:

As always, thanks for being here and helping our kids be their absolute best!

Published by Family ADDventures

Nicole Santiago is a learning specialist, student advocate, and founder of Family ADDventures. As a specialist, she assesses and teaches clients (adults and adolescents) to manage and grow their executive functioning skills which include emotional regulation, task initiation, and time management. As an advocate (IEP coach), she is a member of COPAA and ensures inclusive (special) education students receive the most appropriate educational services possible. She often collaborates with OT's, SLP's and neuropsychologists all in the name of student improvement and success. Her practice is located in San Antonio, TX, and everywhere (virtually). The author grew up an army brat and spends time with her three ND children and husband in Puerto Rico whenever possible. She writes about mental health, parenting, education, and entrepreneurship on her blog:

2 thoughts on “How Kids Think

  1. Really good Nicole – you should definitely spark lots of attention.

    Love you and always hoping for more successes — Xoxo Moma

    On Tue, Oct 19, 2021 at 12:28 PM Family ADDventures wrote:

    > FamilyADDventures posted: ” My son said “Why does God have to do that?” > the other day when our friends canceled our pool date with a sick child. > It struck me in the heart. As I work and talk with parents, I hear > phrases like “He blames everyone but himself,” or, “It’s always ” >


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