You might have heard this term thrown around, and heard people explain the importance of embracing a growth mindset.
But what does a “growth mindset” ACTUALLY entail? How can we foster it in our own children or students?
Growth Mindset: A Definition
One of the most famous books (and some may argue the O.G. book) on growth mindset, was written by Carol S. Dweck, a psychologist and professor of psychology at Stanford University.
According to Dr. Dweck, there are two types of mindsets; growth and fixed. A fixed mindset is the belief that your intelligence is static which may lead to a myriad of tendencies when it comes to learning (which we’ll cover later.)
While a growth mindset is the belief that intelligence is dynamic and may lead to an entirely different set of tendencies that push you into progressing towards a goal.
Now of course, we would never want to explain the intricacies of this to your children, but I’ve linked some videos here that do an excellent job of better helping children understand the basics, in child-appropriate terms.
What Does Growth Mindset Look Like?
The biggest part of a growth mindset is the concept of ‘yet.’
A child that naturally has a growth mindset, understands that they may not immediately grasp a skill or a concept, but every time they try and seemingly ‘fail,’ they understand that failure is not failure, but an opportunity to learn.
We can encourage our children to embrace a growth mindset, when they encounter something that is difficult with phrases such as these;
“I love your effort!”
“Look at how hard you are working!”
“Making mistakes means you’re learning!”
Frustration is Okay!
While encouraging our children to view perceived failures as learning opportunities, it is equally important to recognize feelings of frustration and identify that they are feeling them;
“I can tell you’re frustrated and that’s okay, why don’t we take a walk around the block and try again.”
You can even take the time to walk around the block to talk through their frustrations (or for some children, they may not want to discuss their frustrations at all, and that’s okay too!)
Modeling for our children is extremely important. Children will undoubtedly need some guidance, using questioning and/or encouragement from us.
Listed below are some questions and responses you can use to foster growth mindset, in response to phrases of frustration or confidence your child may use;
If your child says, “I’m not good at this!” ask them, “What information are you missing?”
Maybe they get a bit TOO confident and say, “I’m awesome at this!” encourage them by telling them, “You’re on the right track!”
If your child says, “I give up!” ask them, “What strategies do we have that can help you work through this?”
Frustration is inevitable. When your children exclaim, “This is too hard!” encourage them by saying “This may take some more time and effort.”
If your child says, “I can’t make this any better.” encourage them with, “Everyone can always improve! Keep trying!.”
When that dreaded, ‘can’t word arises with, “I just can’t do math.” encourage them by telling them “You can train your brain to do Math more easily, by practicing!.”
If your child says, “I made a mistake.” encourage them with, “Mistakes help us learn!”
When comparison creeps in, and your child states, “She’s so smart. I’ll never be that smart.” Encourage them to work with the child they are admiring and figure out how they do what they do!
If your child says, “It’s good enough.” Ask them, “Is this really your very best work?”
Once your child has heard you model these phrases enough, implementing a growth mindset of their own will eventually become second nature!
Encouraging a Growth Mindset
Pairing goal setting and mindset is so natural! (Check out my blog post on goal setting with your children here.)
So if you haven’t already, it might be a great idea to help your children set some realistic S.M.A.R.T Goals and as they are working towards those goals, encourage a growth mindset.
What are some ways that you encourage a growth mindset in your own children? I would love to hear in the comments section below!