“I wonder what subject will help your brain grow the most this year?” is another way of saying “I wonder what subject will require you to work the hardest this year?”
“Which friend do you think you will build the most coping skills from?” is another version of “Which friend do you think you will have the most challenges with?”
Helping your child see these difficult circumstances as their biggest opportunities will help you create a different story for your child about what difficult situations really mean.
If it’s easy for your child to excel in math, that really isn’t the subject that will help them flex their brain muscle or build the most neutrons in their brain. And it almost certainly won’t help them build the coping skills that will be essential to their future success. We learn through challenges and the more your child understands that, the less these challenges will feel like threats to their wellbeing.
Similarly with relationships, the more similar our perspectives are to someone, the less often we have to try to see the world through their eyes and the less empathy, cognitive flexibility and resilience we build. Likewise with growth mindset, this skill requires putting in effort for the things that are hard for us. If you can get ahead of these challenges and frame them accurately before they even happen you can get your child in a growth mindset frame of mind right from the beginning.
That’s not to say that we should avoid our closest friends or drop out of the subjects that come easy – but understanding the value of our challenges is a great way to engage our kids in all parts of their lives.