Cultivate a growth mindset with games. Practical tips and the “mystery bag”
Setting the stage for fun and games
Your child may be starting to move from “parallel” play to more interactive play. This is the perfect time to start developing some basic game-playing skills. The simple games you play now, and how you play them, set the stage for pleasant and meaningful gameplay with family and friends as they grow.
Games and growth mindset
As you play games together, you have the opportunity to show your child what good sportsmanship, healthy competition and a growth mindset look like.
- Model “being a good sport” by not emphasizing winning, but instead enjoying the game.
- Refrain from taking a victory lap when you win, or from showing disappointment when you lose.
- Drop any teasing about losing - even if it is gently teasing another adult who is playing with you.
Instead, model being really curious about the game itself. Make your thoughts audible as you think through what you learned from your turn. When playing a stacking game, you might say, “Oh, I see, if I put the long branch on top, it always falls” or “Hmmm. Next time I think I’ll try stacking a small branch on top and see how that goes.”
The goal is to have fun and learn through the game. This will help your child have a growth mindset toward not only games but all challenges. They will understand that failure is part of everyone’s learning journey and that learning from our mistakes is the gift those mistakes give us. With games, it is such a valuable skill to be able to enjoy the game, regardless of the outcome.
Your child will likely experience less frustration around losing as an outcome of this work. They may be able to focus on the game itself more than on winning. If your child does get upset, try to embrace the moment as a teachable moment for modeling empathy.
A mystery bag can be a fun, enticing way to help children develop their kinesthetic ability to feel something and map it in their minds. It is also a great way to introduce new words.
What you’ll need:
- A bag with a drawstring at the top, or a way for the top to hide what is inside.
- Four to five items from your kit or from around your house. At first, the items should be fairly distinct and different. For example: a spoon, a block, a tissue packet, and a sock.
Lay all the items out in front of you and review their names by pointing to each item and saying the name out loud. Then put all the items in the bag. Model reaching in the bag with the drawstring tight so that you can’t see what you are doing. Feel around and grab one object. Describe what you are feeling “Hmmm. There is a long skinny part and a rounded flat part. The whole thing is smooth and it feels cold…. I think I have the spoon!” Pull it out and see if you are right! Invite your child to have a turn. Next time it is your turn, make sure to make a mistake and model amazement that you had no idea what the item was. Your child might love a chance to pick the next set of items, for you to guess.