Ask a Question, Part Deux

A few months ago I wrote about the age-old question we ask our kids everyday after school: “What did you learn today?” I was at a seminar and the speaker gave us a new question to ask our kids each day. “Did you ask any good questions today?” I liked it so much I asked that question to my kids each day after school. First, they were annoyed with me, and then they finally gave in and participated in my antics (this is a regular pattern for me). It was a fun way to get them to think beyond just the basic level of what they learned. It forced them to see where they were actively engaged in growing. They took this question thing literally too. So much so that every morning this summer I have been peppered with questions about sports for 45 straight minutes as I drink my coffee. I created a monster. At least they know that A-Rod is a cheat and Hank Aaron (in my book) is still the home run record holder.

Carol Dweck, who I have written about often, is a professor, researcher and author of the book, Mindset. This morning I was reading this piece on the site Zite and Dweck nails it again. She so simply captures the importance of a growth mindset over a fixed mindset. Growth never stops for any of us. Fixed is forever. Fostering a growth mindset in ourselves and our kids is essential, rather than just praise. Dweck, in this article, asks us to bring a new question to the dinner table. “Who had a fabulous struggle today?” This question helps kids understand the value of working through issues and showing resilience.

There is a great deal we can learn from our struggle and the struggle of others. We just watched the movie, 42, as a family and it was a great way to teach the kids about the “struggle” Jackie Robinson faced (not to mention the movie was very well done). This question can also be a great window for us to share with our kids about how we as adults face challenges and work through them. I am looking forward to adding this question to the dinner table routine. But, for now, I must go, pour my coffee and answer a barrage of sports questions from the peanut gallery. I am predicting a “Why did A-Rod cheat?” question right off the bat. Money? Advantage? Narcissism? Fear? Everyone else is doing it? Easy answers but tough to choose just one reason. Ah yes, there is one answer, a lack of character.

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