8 Ways To Encourage A Growth Mindset In Kids
Of all the topics I’ve written about over the years, how to foster a growth mindset in our children is probably the one that has generated the most positive feedback.
And this is the piece that has had the biggest impact on my parenting. I have the poster above tacked to the wall in our kitchen. And I often find my boys rolling their eyes at me in the backseat of the car after I remind them yet again that their brains grow and learn by effort, practice and hard work (“We KNOW Mum! You already told us.).
Fixed versus growth mindsets
Dr. Carol Dweck, a professor of psychology at Stanford University and author of the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, studies mindset in children. She believes children are similar to adults in that they have one of two possible mindsets—a fixed mindset or a growth mindset .
Kids with a fixed mindset believe they’re ‘smart’ or ‘dumb’, talented at something: painting, music or football, or not. They may believe the world is made of some gifted people, whom the rest admire from the sidelines. Conversely, kids with a growth mindset appreciate anyone can build themselves into anything they want to be. They recognise that people aren’t ‘smart’ or ‘dumb’, that there are no talented geniuses; only hard-working people who have chosen to take their abilities to the next level.
Dweck’s research shows that students’ beliefs about intelligence play an important role in their school achievement, engagement, and happiness. We found that students’ mindsets—how they perceive their abilities—played a key role in their motivation and achievement, and we found that if we changed students’ mindsets, we could boost their achievement. Students who believed their intelligence could be developed (a growth mindset) outperformed those who believed their intelligence was fixed (a fixed mindset).
While most kids sail through adolescence, a significant proportion disengage from school and with that comes a decline in academic results and self-esteem. When Dweck and her team explored the role of mindset belief in adolescents they found that even when students on both ends of the fixed- versus growth-mindset continuum showed equal intellectual ability, their beliefs predicted their school performance.