Parenting expert Jessica Lahey to speak at Zionsville Performing Arts Center


By Mark Ambrogi

Zionsville Community Schools’ Strong in Every Way initiative is a perfect fit for parenting and teaching expert Jessica Lahey’s approach to learning.


Lahey, author of “The Gift of Failure,” will give a presentation at 6 p.m. March 14 at Zionsville Performing Arts Center. The subtitle of the book is “How The Best Parents Learn To Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed.” Strong in Every Way focuses on helping students build grit and resilience.

“I firmly believe that how students view intelligence and competence is as important, if not more important than, the brain power they were born with,” Lahey said. “When a child understands that intelligence is malleable, that we can gain or lose brain power over time depending on how much we challenge ourselves, they learn better.”

She also said that her research shows that children who have the “emotional wherewithal” to persist through challenges are in a “better position to learn.”

“They can benefit from a teaching tool called ‘desirable difficulties,’ or challenges just beyond a student’s current ability level that trigger deeper learning,” Lahey said. “Kids who get frustrated and give up, no matter how smart they may be, can’t take advantage of the incredible power of desirable difficulties, because they tend to give up when the going gets tough.”

Lahey said parents should give children more autonomy in learning to increase the chances that children will want to learn for the sake of learning.

“Focus on the process of learning whenever possible and stop talking about the product, such as grades and score so much. Kids learn best when they are driven by intrinsic (internal) rather than extrinsic (external) motivators,” Lahey said. “Parenting is a long-haul job, and we should be focusing more on long-term goals of competence and resilience over happiness in the moment. It can be hard to focus on where we want our kids to be from a competence perspective in, say, five years’ time, but we will be much more likely to raise kids who can thrive without us if we do.”

Tickets are $20. For tickets, visit or call 317-733-4833.


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