Parents and Coaches,
Metacognition, an executive function skill, is the ability to think about your thinking. Taking a repeated objective look at the inner decision-making process of how one makes decisions is an abstract process that may seem nebulous at best to many. When used in conjunction with other EF skills, like self-monitoring, long term working memory, and foresight (anticipate/ predict), a person is able to learn, shift, correct, and execute better.
But how do you get kids to this intuitively? Well, to a great extent you are already using your metacognitive execuvtive function skill 'muscles.' It is helpful to know where your child's, or your own particualr deficits/ strengths are, in order to have a plan of action to be laser-focused and rendering results. Consider this: small mindset, or perspective shifts can have massive implications down the road. Just like a large ship is moved by a small rudder, training our children with this kind of positive reinforcement directly fosters executive function skill development in very strenuous ways.
So without further ado follow the below directions for a week and notice the difference.
1. Praise the process, not the end result.
Praise their effort, their patience with the task, how they are problem solving and working so hard at a task. Praise how they are exercising great self-control in not getting frustrated with the math problem. Praise how they focused, and sustained attention by completing a whole game, especially if they didn't want to do it. Praise how much effort they are putting in being so perseverant. Praise, how they kept working hard during homework time.
Praising the end result, and not the process would mean that they get that approval, praise, and accomplishment for completing a task, without much thought to the effort that went into it. Once they get you praise on achieving something, it is like they earned a great label. "I am smart." "I am great." But they don't associate that smartess to critical thinking, hard work, self-control, perseverance, working with others well, etc. They associate it with being smart because of their end result accomplishment. Unfortunately, after a few years, when kids who are instilled with this end result mindset enter 6th, 7th, and 8th grade, they begin to disconnect. Of course, their are a slew of reasons why kids disconnect, but from a metacognitive point of view... great downward pressure is being exerted on how these students/ professionals operate, simply do to entrenched mindsets.
To undo these, follow the above advice. Intelligence is not fixed. Talent can be and is refined. People can improve their emotional and intellectual intelligence like working a muscle.
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