Faults in Our Stars: Developing a Flexible Mindset for Ourselves and Our Children

Faults in Our Stars: Developing a Flexible Mindset for Ourselves and Our Children

One of our main objectives at CBT Westport is working together with kids and their parents to achieve a growth and flexible mindset.  As part of this objective, we practice taking risks and learning how to tolerate mistakes.

Professor Thomas Curran, an Assistant Professor of psychological and Behavioral Sciences at the London School of Economics, views perfectionism as a relational trait rather than an individual trait.  This makes sense when we are treating children and adolescents who oftentimes look to their environment (home, school, sports team, parent/coach/teacher) as a conduit to his/her/their perfectionism.

Perfectionists may show vulnerability by their inability to tolerate mistakes – both in themselves and others.  Children will look to their outside world and internalize, compare, contrast, and criticize themselves and others.

We as parents, teachers and caregivers must remember that mistakes are opportunities for learning and growth.  We want our kids to accept mistakes and not give up on trying no matter how big or small the blunder.  We must also be very careful that WE as adults do not speak ill of those who have wronged us, made a mistake or a choice that we might not necessarily agree with in front of our children.  We must choose our words wisely and thoughtfully.  It can be difficult especially when our own emotions are running high.

Examples may include:

  • The co-worker who is not pulling their weight on a big project
  • The woman driving 30 mph in the left-hand lane
  • The coach who side-lined your child at her last soccer game

Whomever it is that you feel wronged you or your child, watch your words, your tone and your energy – especially in front of your child.  Children and teens absorb much of what we say and internalize these words as a way to understand the world and others.

Below are some things that you can say out loud or within your own mind to help cultivate a growth mindset in our children and ourselves:


I’m not good at this

I can’t make this any better

This is too hard

I’ll never be that smart

Plan A did not work

I give up


What am I missing?

I can always improve

This may take some extra time

I will learn to do this

There’s always a plan B

I’ve got this

It is important to remember that perfectionism breeds shame.  This may leave a child or adult to feel that they are fundamentally flawed.  We want our kids to trust themselves and to be kind to themselves and to others.  Patience, forgiveness, and a growth mindset begins with us.