The Growth Mindset
It’s no secret that kids today face way more pressure than ever before. Being bombarded with messages about ‘how they should be’ from every angle is tough.
We as parents need to be ready for this – to alleviate and push away this pressure – the fakeness that is so harmful to children in particular.
We must ask – how can we help our children thrive?
Enter: The Growth Mindset (I put it in capitals for that impact power, y’know?)
What is a growth mindset?
A growth mindset promotes the FACT that intelligence and abilities can be developed through effort and practice.
It’s been shown to empower children (and adults) to overcome challenges in every situation, whether that’s exams, sports, relationships, illness or anything else.
In this post, we’ll discuss ways to help children develop a growth mindset, including the right way to give feedback to encourage effort over results, helping them see failure as an opportunity to learn and grow.
This post contains affiliate links.
Growth mindset questions for kids
A growth mindset is simply a perspective you take on things. When you think from a growth mindset way, you believe intelligence and abilities can be developed through effort and practice.
This contrasts with a ‘fixed mindset’, which believes intelligence and abilities are fixed traits that cannot be changed.
The extensive research of Stanford professor Carol Dweck shows people with a growth mindset are far more likely to succeed in life, above and beyond anyone with a fixed mindset.
One of the reasons a growth mindset is so powerful is that it sees failure as the opportunity to evolve and grow rather than a sign they’re not intelligent or capable.
This allows perseverance in the face of setbacks, ultimately achieving what they set out to, no matter how hard or how long it takes.
New psychology of success
There are infinite ways to help children develop a growth mindset! First, I would say is be a parent with a growth mindset. Kids model their parents first off.
Parents and caregivers can help children by providing growth mindset feedback – emphasising effort rather than intelligence or natural abilities.
For example, you might say, “Great job on that project! You worked super hard on it I can see” instead of “Wow, look at you! You’re so smart!”
A surefire way to encourage a growth mindset is to help your child see failure as the best opportunity for learning.
Share with them stories of how you’ve overcome challenges in life. What did you do? How did you react? What could you have done better?
Finally, it’s important to model a growth mindset by showing your child that YOU, as their parent, are willing to take on new challenges and learn new things (and fail, try again, fail, repeat)
So now’s the time to wave goodbye to any fixed mindset statement (s) you tell yourself repeatedly in your mind, right?!
Development of a growth mindset
If kids are open to attempting new experiences and willing to put in the effort to learn new skills, they likely have a growth mindset by default (which is great.)
Another way to tell if your child has a growth mindset is their ability to find joy in the learning process. If they see learning as fun rather than a chore, keep going!
Growth mindset thinking can be encouraged through proper feedback and encouragement too.
When children get praised for their efforts and resilience in the face of setbacks, they’ll naturally develop a growth mindset, which will support them in their everyday lives going forward.
It’s all in how the brain works and what thoughts and beliefs are encouraged from a young age.
Our brains are malleable, meaning they can learn and create new thinking methods through repetition and practice. The younger you set a child up with the right mindset, the better!
Growth mindset activities for kids
Growth mindset activities for kids are amazing.
They help kids develop a more positive outlook toward tackling tough obstacles, giving them the motivation to carry on rather than give up.
These activities encourage effort and perseverance and help children see failure as the best opportunity for learning.
There is seriously no giving up with a growth mindset!
Tailor these suggested activities to how your child enjoys learning. This will make problem-solving skills far stronger, plus they’ll have fun while doing the activities, meaning they’ll want to repeat them again and again.
A key growth mindset activity for kids is to take on new challenges.
This involves trying new things, taking on difficult tasks, or pushing themselves outside of their comfort zone. By taking on new challenges, kids learn they can do more than they ever thought possible.
Side note: Parents must never force their children to do these tasks – that’s the worst thing! Encourage, yes. Force, no!
Why not try?
Little and often will build up your child’s own mindset skills and nurture the process of learning over the end result.
Remember, with a growth mindset, the end result is not the focus whatsoever. It’s all in the effort and perseverance – the outcome totally doesn’t matter!
It’s helpful to encourage children to see failure as THE opportunity for future learning.
This can be done by sharing times when you’ve failed in the past and what you learned from the experience.
We all fail at things, but we needn’t see it as a negative thing at all.
Additionally, it’s important to point out that everyone makes mistakes, and it’s totally fine to fail. End of!
Just keep going and know that next time things could be different.
By doing this, kids naturally develop a growth mindset which will help them succeed in life.
How can I help my child develop a growth mindset?
One of the best ways by far that parents can help their children develop a growth mindset is by exposing them to new experiences and challenges.
Things like traveling, days out, new worksheets or books, or new car journeys even!
This helps children see that intelligence and ability are not fixed traits but that personal characteristics are developed through effort and practice.
Believe me, a fixed mindset is developed over time too! Often over many years.
It’s mega important for parents to encourage their children to take on new challenges. And to do the challenging things with them!
What should I avoid if I want my child to have a growth mindset?
One of the most destructive things you can do is this: Telling your child, they’re not good at something.
This only discourages and causes them to give up.
Instead, praise the effort they put in and encourage them to keep going. If your child has had enough, you need to back down and let them rest.
Another thing to avoid is acting like you know everything!
This only makes your child feel like they can never measure up. Instead, show them you’re willing to learn new things and make mistakes equally as often.
(I’m forever apologizing to my kids for messing up and making mistakes! True story!)
Ensure you help your child see mistakes as an opportunity to learn.
And this is perhaps a touch obvious, but don’t give up on your child if they struggle. This only makes them feel they’re not worth your time and effort.
Be patient yourself and encourage them to keep trying.
List of growth mindset phrases
You may be totally new to the growth mindset, and that’s fine!
Be willing to take on a growth mindset yourself in more situations, so you can see how it empowers you vs. bringing you down.
The more you, as a parent, take a growth mindset approach, the more your child will model you and do the same!
Why not take inspiration and use this list of phrases to help your child (and you!) develop a growth mindset?
Positive language (examples)
“Mistakes help you learn and get better at things”
“You did a great job on that!”
“Look at the effort you put in!”
“I love how hard you tried on that.”
“We all learn how, which takes time; it’s a fun journey to be on”
“You can learn that whenever you want! It will take practice, and that’s a good thing.”
“Learning is super fun!”
“Let’s try doing it another way, shall we?”
“With practice and patience, you’ll get there.”
“Remember the power of ‘not yet?” You will do; just give it time.”
“Being angry is never a bad thing. Anger is always telling you something important.”
“You never, ever have to earn my love. I’ll always love you no matter what.”
“You are my world, regardless of what you achieve.”
“The most important thing you can be is yourself!”
“You are seen and heard in our family. We are a team.”
“You are my teacher too, you know? You teach me so much about life.”
“It’s totally OK to make mistakes!”
“When I make a mistake with you, I’ll do my very best to make it better.”
“In our family, we celebrate failure and turn it into feedback so we learn for next time.”
“When you make a mistake, I’ll be here to help you. Always.”
If you struggle to get your head around the concept of a Growth Mindset, just keep these two sentences in mind.
“Things are happening to me” (FIXED mindset – woe me)
“Things are happening for me (GROWTH mindset – empowered me)
I hope you found this post enjoyable. Good things come to those who take the first step. Why not try out a growth mindset right now?
Quick question: What is something you find challenging, and how can you switch it around to a growth mindset perspective?
Feel free to comment below and share your challenges – I’d love to help you see it from a growth mindset perspective!
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