Growth mindset seems like the new buzzword in the education and child development domain. According to mindset theory, developed by Carol Dweck, a psychology professor at Stanford University, students with growth mindsets tend to demonstrate more adaptive behaviours and psychological traits, such as resilience in response to failure, which in turn leads to greater academic achievement. (An excerpt from MSU Today)
Before we dive into how to develop a growth mindset in our children, let’s look at what is a growth mindset?
What Is A Growth Mindset?
Growth mindset is the idea that, with effort, it’s possible to increase intelligence levels, talents, and abilities. Students who demonstrate a growth mindset believe their abilities develop over time, tend to seek out opportunities to gain new knowledge and broaden their skills, and do not typically shy away from challenges (Kazakoff & Mitchell, 2017).
When Do I Start Helping My Child Develop a Growth Mindset?
Unfortunately, parents unintentionally and unknowingly instil a fixed mindset in their children when they young. Parenting is undoubtedly the toughest and most important responsibility to work on. When you have kids, you must plan how to raise them.
It is important to raise your children with a growth mindset because this will ensure they are happy, thriving, and successful adults. If your kids have a growth mindset, they will not just restrict themselves to the abilities they are born with but will strive to do more and be more. They will always keep trying and succeeding at everything they get their hands on.
Here’s how you can raise your kids with a growth mindset:
Tell them that the brain develops and strengthens over time
It is important to let your kids know that the brain is a human organ that grows in potential as they grow in age. Also, just like every other muscle our brain also needs exercise and nutrition. The brain needs to be challenged and provided with good food, lots of oxygen and water to keep it sharp. It’s important that we help our children learn as they grow and tell them that if s/he wasn’t successful in doing something yesterday, he could try doing it again today and help him/her achieve success.
Talk about your failures, struggles, and successes in a positive tone
Telling success stories is always a good idea as children learn the struggle behind the stories, but talking about failed attempts with a healthier lesson is a better idea. This helps your child learn that when you succeed, that’s great, but when you fail, you still succeed as you have learned a lesson.
Focus on their efforts instead of results
As a parent, you must focus on your kids’ efforts rather than just the results. Tell them that it is not important to be successful every time. What’s important is to try their best and put in the whole effort when doing something.
As Albert Einstein said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
Appraise in a specific way and not just generally
When your child unlocks a door on his own, do not just say, “That was smart.” Instead, you can say that “Great; I liked the way you used your intelligence here, nice work!”
Being specific in praising your child helps develop a growth mindset in them.
Use ‘yet’ more often
Instead of asking your child if he has solved his math sum, it is better to ask if he has solved his math sum yet. Using yet more often instils in the mind of your child that if he has not done it yet, he will be able to do it soon if he keeps trying.
Show them the bigger picture of everything they learn
For every little thing, your kids learn, show them how it is going to help them in the long run. This creates a bigger picture of everything in their minds. This way, they keep focusing on learning and developing new skills.
Engage in activities and playthings that help them grow
Invest in ideas, activities and toys that impart values, skills and knowledge too. All fun and no takeaway is a wasted opportunity for your child. The next time you buy a toy for your child, pause and check if that toy, activity is going to add any value to your child’s life or is it going to be forgotten after a couple of days and left in the corner of the room before they move to the next shiny toy.
By focusing on the holistic development of your child, you are creating a strong foundation for their future successes. However, if your child fails at something, with their Growth Mindset they are going to treat it as a learning opportunity and keep moving on in life confidently from one challenge to the other.