Have you read Kobi Yamada’s new picture books? Are you interested in teaching students about growth mindset? If you’re a teacher, counselor, or parent, you can’t afford to leave these books on the shelf. What Do You Do With a Problem? is Kobi’s most recent (and my favorite) book about finding opportunities in problems. Mothering an anxious child and having taught and counseled students with tendencies towards anxiety and worry, this book is an absolute gem.
Helping children identify their worries can be difficult. Identifying the root of anxiety as an adult isn’t always easy, so we can only imagine asking little ones to verbalize feelings that they may not fully understand. In an eloquent way and in child appropriate language, Kobi Yamada manages to make this connection for kids.
As adults, our first inclination is to want to solve problems for kids. While it is full of fantastic intentions, it doesn’t provide kids with tools to help themselves when they’re faced with similar problems in the future.
When we teach kids to find opportunities in problems, we’re asking them to reframe a problem, or to see it in a new way. Viewing the problem from a different angle allows students to release the worry and anxiety and to, instead, make some peace with it.
What can you do as a teacher, a counselor, or a parent to help children face a problem?
- Identify the worry, problem, or concern. Verbalize it. Sometimes it’s near impossible and a child may report that they just feel sad, worried, anxious, or upset. You may need to spend some time talking to the child about triggers. When is the feeling most prevalent? What is occurring during the onset of the anxiety? Are there patterns (times, places, events, etc.) when the worry or anxiety occurs?
- See the problem under a new lens. Put on some sunglasses and tell the child(ren) that you are going to help them see the problem in a new way (growth mindset in action). One way to view the issue is through the lens of a problem (take your sunglasses off). Another way to view the problem is through the lens of opportunity (put the sunglasses back on). SIDE NOTE: Some problems are very heavy and devastating (a child who has a parent facing a terminal illness, for example). Prior to finding opportunities, it is really important to connect and empathize with the child’s situation. Rushing to find opportunities prior to expressing your genuine concern and care can come across as insensitive. It might take days, weeks, or months to get to the point where the child trusts you enough to discuss multiple perspectives.
- Brainstorm new perspectives with the child. How can this problem be viewed from a new angle? Are there any angles that show promise for personal growth? How could this problem help the child face similar issues in the future? Will experiencing this problem help the child empathize with others facing similar situations in the future? Continuing to see the problem as a problem illustrates a fixed mindset, while reframing the problem to see opportunities is the crux of a growth mindset perspective. If you’d like to teach your students more about growth mindset, you can learn how to use growth mindset affirmations in a blog post here.
As a trusted adult in the child’s life, you have the opportunity to help the child identify growth opportunities and to reframe the problem. This is an important component of growth mindset. The power associated with the problem is taken back and then placed into the hands of the child.
Prior to this publication, Kobi Yamada also wrote a book called What Do You Do with an Idea? Just as brilliant, this picture book helps children gain enough confidence to see their ideas through. It allows them the freedom to tap into their own magnificence and to take risks and put their ideas to the test.
In any case, it’s important to teach children about their potential and their magnificence. Both of these books do just that!
Find additional growth mindset literature units, posters, affirmations, or activities here. All the units you see in this category are related to helping students develop a growth mindset.
Happy reading and please feel free to share your ideas for these books in the comments below!
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