I'm a childcare expert – how to stop your kids having a tantrum and giving up if they 'can't do' something

IT can be very difficult to encourage your child to continue if they feel like they "can't do" something.

And after one dad asked for help in dealing with his six-year-old son, who calls himself "dumb" whenever he fails at something, childcare expert Maggie Dent has offered her top tips to help.

"Your son has developed a fixed mindset, which means there’s only one way that he needs to be doing everything, and that’s to the absolute best of his ability and as close to perfection as possible," she said in a recent episode of her Parental As Anything with Maggie Dent podcast.

"Psychologist Carol Dweck’s work around flexible and fixed mindsets explored how a fixed mindset and perfectionism makes it hard for kids to manage losing, and failing, or doing less than they perceive to be good enough.

"And that can be really tricky.

"Because all through schooling there’s going to be times you can’t master a task, so we don’t want it to be fixed that you need to be perfect all the time."

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A flexible mindset means that a child is allowed to "make mistakes, to know that they’re still ok as a human and that they can keep striving, but it means that their worth and their value is not defined by their achievement".

She advised the man to realise that he and his wife need to figure out how to make their son's fixed mindset more flexible

"I want you to model failing a lot, making poor choices, because really we know that modelling influences children’s behaviour," she said.

"And not making it too obvious because he’ll smell a rat."

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The second piece of advice Maggie offered is that the parents should "listen" and "connect" with their son "in the moment".

"Maybe acknowledge that yeah, sometimes life can be a bit hard and we can be a bit hard on ourselves," she explained.

"I just want you to be with him in the moment."

She advised him to dig out some stories from the internet about amazing people who have failed – citing basketballer Michael Jordan, entrepreneur Richard Branson and former Prime Minister Winston Churchill as brilliant examples.

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"And I love the story of Thomas Eddison because he’s the guy who invented the lightbulb, but yet he failed over 100 times before he succeeded," she said.

"So that’s the message we want to give our little lad – which is that sometimes we can’t always get it right. And sometimes it’s when we muck up that we learn something that will help us the next time."

Maggie also advised the family to start playing games together, so that their son "gets to learn to lose easily".

"Because we want him to learn to lose lots and lots of times so that it doesn’t link up to that part of his brain that says there’s something wrong with him rather than,'I’ve just experienced a loss or a failure'," she said.

And the last piece of advice Maggie offered was for the man to make it clear to his son that his love for him is "completely unconditional".

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"That there will be nothing ever in life that he will ever do that he might struggle with that will ever stop your love," she continued.

"Because that’s one of the big messages that’s getting a bit messed up with some of our pressures around high grades."

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