The education field is often bombarded with a new buzzword, catchphrase, or trendy idea. A few of these ideas stick, but many pass quickly.
The current catchphrase in education today is “growth mindset.” If you haven’t heard of growth mindset yet, get ready—you will! A growth mindset in kids is so much more than a catchphrase, though!
The concept is truly life-altering! So, what is the meaning of a growth mindset, and why is it so important?
What is Growth Mindset in Kids?
The idea behind a growth mindset is that our brains have incredible plasticity, especially in a child. This means that the way our brains work can be changed or “re-wired” over time.
One of the most effective ways we can change our brains (and our actions) is to change how we think about different situations and how we react to them.
Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset
Dr. Carol Dweck came up with the terms “fixed mindset” and “growth mindset” after spending more than 30 years studying why some students fail, and others succeed. She learned that oftentimes, it is not how much a student knows about a subject that helps them succeed, but rather how much they believe they have the potential to grow and learn.
When a child has a growth mindset, he believes he can get smarter, so they begin to put in more effort to reach their goals. When students have a fixed mindset, they believe that they are born with an unchangeable amount of intelligence; therefore, they do not put in as much effort to grow and learn.
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This idea sounds simple and straightforward. Common sense? Well, not so much!
Does Your Mindset Need a Tune-Up?
Even though I have always championed my students, I have not always had a growth mindset myself. I tell my students that they can reach any set goal, and I believe in them!
However, I often set very high, almost unattainable goals for myself and then beat myself up about it when I cannot do things perfectly the first time! I know there are kids out there that are the same way—the “perfectionists!”
Power of Yet
Just recently, I have learned the POWER OF YET!
- I can’t run a marathon (YET)!
- I can’t do calculus (YET)!
- I don’t know everything about teaching (YET)!
But, every day, I am still learning and growing. Soon, I will be better at all of those things and more!
We need to be telling our kids and each other that it is OKAY to make mistakes! A well-known but anonymous quote says, “Mistakes are proof that you are trying!”
Mistakes are how we learn and grow. They help us become wise! When things are difficult now, I like to say, “I am training my brain.” Just like physical exercise helps your body become stronger, mental exercise helps make your brain stronger!
4 Easy Ways to Help Develop Growth Mindset in Kids
#1 Change Your Words—Change Your Mindset
Work with your child to change his or her words and actions when faced with difficult situations.
- For example, instead of saying, “I’m not good at this,” he or she could say, “I’m on the right track and succeed with some effort.”
- Instead of “I can’t make this any better,” say, “I can always improve! I will keep trying!”
- Rather than “I give up,” say, “I’ll use some of the strategies I’ve learned to solve this.”
Pretty soon, your child will change his or her mindset. Practice for a few minutes each day. Use encouraging words with your child to help him see that he can improve with time and effort.
Help your child embrace the Power of Yet! When your child says he can’t do something, remind him that he can’t do it yet. But he can do it if he put in the effort to get there!
#2 Embrace Mistakes
Think of mistakes as opportunities for growth. Create a space for your child to feel safe to make mistakes. Also, teach him how to use those mistakes as learning opportunities. Help your child see that with effort, he can overcome mistakes and any obstacle to reach goals.
#3 Look for challenges to Develop Growth Mindset in Kids
Challenges are exercises for our brains—they help make them stronger. Look for ways to challenge your child. Give them opportunities to try things that may appear difficult. Check out these 12 Interesting Challenges for Your Kids to Try.
Help your child to develop perseverance in solving those difficult problems. There is great benefit in productive struggle. This is how children learn to become problem solvers!
#4 Emphasize Effort Not Achievement
Don’t place so much emphasis on the completed job or even grades. Praise your child along the journey to whatever goal he is working toward. It is in this journey that we learn and grow. Be sure to celebrate every small victory!
Additional Resources for Parents
Have more ideas about how to promote a growth mindset? Leave them in the comments below!
Here are some other articles you may be interested in:
- Importance of Fostering Social Emotional Development in Young Children
- How to Empower Young Girls and Build Confidence
- How to Meet a Child’s Sensory Needs at Home
- How to Motivate Kids to Love Schoolwork
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