How to Encourage a Growth Mindset for Kids

How to Encourage a Growth Mindset for Kids

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Nurturing a growth mindset in children is essential for their future success and life satisfaction. Children who believe that they can develop their skills, talents, and intelligence tend to be more confident and see shortcomings as learning opportunities. 

What Is a Growth Mindset?

Recent research on brain plasticity has shown that the brain is flexible much more than it was believed. The brain’s neural pathways can change with new experiences, strengthening the existing neural connections and growing the new ones. 

A growth mindset can help children improve academic performance and motivation to keep learning. The term growth mindset involves our beliefs about our abilities, potentials, and skills. Mindset helps us make decisions, solve problems, and overcome challenges.

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During her extensive research of students’ attitudes about failure at Stanford University, Dr. Carol Dweck developed a distinction between two different types of mindsets: a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. Dr. Dweck believes that these two different types of mindset are at the core of the differences in our performance and life success.

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How a Growth Mindset Works

Kids with a growth mindset are more likely to enjoy learning and seek opportunities for exploration and development. They see mistakes as opportunities for improvement and don’t fear taking safe risks. 

A growth mindset drives motivation and helps kids achieve goals. If your child believes that they can get more imaginative, they will set learning as their goal. Therefore, they will spend more time and effort, which will lead to higher achievement. 

In other words, if they believe their brain can grow, kids will behave differently. The feedback that children get from their parents and teachers can significantly impact how they perceive their intelligence and skills.

Ways to Encourage a Growth Mindset in Children

Since a mindset represents a system of beliefs, it can be learned or changed. Using the following simple but powerful strategies can help you encourage a growth mindset in your children to help them succeed and grow.

1. Teach Your Kids About the Brain and How It Works

Help your kids understand the brain’s plasticity and flexibility, and explain that each new experience helps grow new connections and rewiring their brain, making new learning easier. Teach them that they can improve their talents and intelligence with curiosity and effort. 

Teach them that the brain remains active and flexible throughout life, strengthening or expanding existing behavior patterns and adapting to entirely new ones. This allows the brain to adjust to new situations. Help your kids understand that if their brain can change, their mind has the same ability. 

Teach them that they can learn everything with time, effort, and patience, and help them understand that people with a growth mindset know that hard work can help them achieve their goals. 

2. Explain The Concept of Two Mindsets: Growth and Fixed

Explain to your kids that a growth mindset involves an underlying belief that your intelligence, abilities, and traits can develop and advance over time if you put effort into upgrading them. People with a growth mindset have confidence in their skills and see mistakes as opportunities for learning and growth. 

Help them understand that those with a fixed mindset tend to believe that their intelligence and skills are fixed and cannot be improved with time and effort. They usually avoid changes in life and feel stressed out in front of the challenges, seeing mistakes as failures rather than growth opportunities.

Growth Mindset quote

3. Model a Growth Mindset for Your Children

Whether your child will develop growth or a fixed mindset depends a lot on observing and listening to you. You are your child’s most important role model, showing them how to nurture growth mindset thinking patterns. 

For example, instead of saying, “This is so difficult,” say, “This is going to require an additional effort.”

Teach your children how to recognize such fixed mindset thoughts and replace them with growth mindset ones. 

When you make a mistake, tell your kids that you will not give up but learn from that experience and improve. Instead of giving up, show them how to use other strategies and problem-solving skills they learned. 

4. Teach Them to Eliminate Negative Self-Talk

Or negative inner voice can strongly influence our mood, perspective, and behavior. Teach your kids how to recognize negative self-talk and replace it with positive thinking patterns. Encourage them to integrate the word “yet” in their vocabulary and help them write down affirmative thoughts for when they feel discouraged. 

For example, instead of saying “I haven’t figured out this,” encourage your child to write down, “I haven’t figured out this, yet.”

Dr. Carol Dweck believes that the word “yet” helps kids not give up when faced with obstacles, boosts their confidence, and provides motivation. 

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How To Support Your Child While They Learn the Growth Mindset

To support your child while learning the growth mindset, encourage them to value the process over the results. Be a role model with your growth mindset and provide feedback and praise. 

1. Teach Them to View Failures/Shortcomings as a Learning Opportunity

Teach your kids that mistakes and failures are an integral part of the human experience. Offer empathy and compassion when they fail, but show your kids how to reframe mistakes into learning opportunities. 

Help them to acknowledge their mistakes, reflect on them, and take responsibility for their actions. However, encourage self-compassion and help your kids understand that mistakes are there to help us learn and grow.

2. Teach Them It’s Okay to Fail and How to Deal with It

Help your children understand and accept that mistakes are unavoidable in life. Let them know that it is okay to fail and bounce back. Teaching your kids resilience and self-compassion can help them avoid unproductive self-criticism, make plans for future mistakes, and understand them as lessons rather than failures.If you are finding your child or teen needs support, feel free to reach out. We can discuss how to best support your child through these growing years.

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