“Our soon-to-be-born son won’t learn to drive a car”.
That’s what I told my co-worker this past week. She initially stared at me in disbelief. After a few seconds of processing, her look faded into one of acceptance. We were discussing Tesla’s autopilot feature and the likelihood of that form of technology being commonplace in all cars in the future.
This next generation of future would-be drivers, Generation Z, will face a very different world from that of their parents or grandparents.
Driven in part by the ubiquity of a global internet and the rise of artificial intelligence, this brave new world calls for an entirely different curriculum for life.
It got me thinking: how my parents raised me is going to be wholly different than how my husband and I will raise our kids.
Perhaps more so than any other generation pairing in history. More so than baby boomers and their millennial kids, even.
If my husband and I won’t be teaching our teenage son how to drive a car like our fathers did for us, then what will we teach our son to best set him up for the future?
What to Teach Them
Here are our top three areas of focus for raising your Generation Z’ers:
1. Instill a Growth Mindset
Thanks to Carol Dweck and her book Mindset, there is a roadmap to help us adults adjust our mental framework from fixed to one of growth. Luckily for kids, they haven’t had the years of fixed mindset thinking drilled into them as many of us have.
Ok, so what, then, is a growth mindset vs. a fixed mindset?
A growth mindset focuses on effort and dedication to learning rather than the belief in natural talent and intelligence. Here’s a scenario to illustrate the difference:
A child solves a challenging math problem. Now imagine two different reactions by the parent, who intends to support the child’s success:
Growth mindset: If the child is rewarded for the effort and dedication he or she applied to the problem, the child will learn to pursue harder problems.
Fixed mindset: If the child is rewarded for intelligence instead, being called ‘smart,’ for example, the child will learn to identify with that description.
Now repeat this scenario throughout the child’s adolescence.
The child with the growth mindset will continue to pursue hard problems, developing creativity and flexibility in finding solutions because he or she doesn’t fear failure.
The child with the fixed mindset will take on fewer challenges, developing a fear of not being considered smart.
So how will a growth mindset be a critical attribute in the future?
Routine jobs today will be taken over more often by artificial intelligence in the future. The most highly-sought jobs will be those that require flexibility and creativity, something a growth-mindset person will be adept at tackling.
2. Encourage Big Dreams
“Dream big” sounds like a cliché, doesn’t it?
But all too often, the dreams we have as kids are beaten down as we grow older. With smaller dreams come lower expectations about what we should do and can do in life.
The changes that have improved the world have come from individuals whose dreams are BIG.
Blake Mycoskie wanted to create a sustainable business that would provide shoes for children; he created TOMS Shoes and, to date, has supplied over 60 million pairs of shoes to children around the world.
If a child maintains the ability to dream big throughout life, that child will be able to envision the world not as it is, but as it could be.
Progress is made by pushing into areas previously undreamt of.
As Generation Z’ers become adults, the interconnectivity of the globe will mean problems and their solutions will span cultures, countries, and continents. This interconnected globe will be the perfect stage for a big dreamer to thrive.
3. Foster Gratefulness
My husband and I go on gratitude walks each evening around our nearby park. During the walk, we share things for which we are grateful. We go one step further, though, and list things that are in the future as well.
We feel these gratefulness statements act like affirmations, making it real to our subconscious minds and to the Universe.
How does being grateful help your child in the future?
It acts as a lens on the child’s perspective. Being grateful helps them see opportunity in seemingly bleak situations by keeping their mindset positive. And it helps them to focus on the things that matter and less on the things that don’t.
Your child’s ability to see the signal through the noise will mean they will be effective at solving the right problems and creating the most good.
How to Teach Them
Kids learn by many means, but the two strongest are by taking action and having role models in their lives. That means if they see their parents living these attributes, they’ll be quick to embody them themselves.
Talk about times when you had to work very hard to solve a problem, both as an adult and as a kid Share your big dreams with them And each day, share with them something for which you are grateful
And if helping your child learn improves your own levels of success and well-being in this world, then we call that a win-win.
So in the future, if your teenage child isn’t spending time learning to drive a car they’ll have more free time to teach you about the artificial intelligence system that controls your home. Similar to how my husband helped his father program the family VCR as a kid.