“You play a significant role in your child’s development and can have a powerful impact on their mindset.”
What You’ll Learn
- What is a growth vs. fixed mindset?
- What are the benefits of a growth mindset?
- When and how do I nurture a growth mindset for my child?
- How can I assess my own mindset?
I often hear young children make statements such as, “I don’t know how to do that” or “I’m not good at that.” Although most young children are curious and persistent, I still see so many children give up before they even try!
Without the appropriate support, these children could become insecure and withdraw from new learning experiences. In contrast, given the tools to enrich and nurture a growth mindset, these children will learn to see challenges or failure not as a sign to quit, but as an opportunity to try again.
Growth vs. Fixed Mindset
A mindset is a set of attitudes or beliefs you hold about yourself. These attitudes and beliefs can be positive or negative. Carol Dweck identifies two particular mindsets, growth mindset and fixed mindset. Here is how she defines them:
Growth mindset: a belief that intelligence is malleable and can be increased with effort and learning. Those with a growth mindset often:
- Focus on improving their intelligence
- Experience challenges as an opportunity to learn
- Work harder in the face of challenges
- See effort as a virtue
A common misconception is that a growth mindset is about being positive. While having a growth mindset does encourage a positive outlook when faced with challenges, it is more than this—having a growth mindset indicates that you believe a person’s true potential is unknown (and unknowable).
Fixed mindset: a belief that intelligence is a static or innate characteristic that one either does or does not possess. Those with a fixed mindset often:
- Focus on proving their intelligence
- Experience challenges as evidence of their limitations
- Tend to give up in the face of challenges
- See effort as indicative of low ability
While having a fixed mindset in certain situations is not “bad” per se, there are a significant amount of benefits to holding a growth mindset, and learning about this mindset at a young age.
Benefits of a Growth Mindset
Encouraging a growth mindset at a young age can lead to life-long benefits for your child. Research indicates that a growth mindset not only predicts academic achievement, but also helps children develop the following skills:
- Positive attitude towards learning
- Intrinsic motivation
- Agency for learning
- Creativity and innovation
- Positive learning habits
In addition, research is being conducted to determine how positive mindsets also contribute to physical well-being.
6 Tips to Nurture a Growth Mindset
While we are born with an innate curiosity to learn, we are not born with a specific mindset. The early years are then a great time to teach and reinforce a growth mindset. Parents and caregivers, you play a significant role in your child’s development and can have a powerful impact on their mindset. Here are 6 tips that include the language and actions we suggest:
|Introduce the concept of a growth mindset!||You can find a list of read-aloud books that discuss this topic below.|
|Help your child identify growth mindset statements and practice.||When you hear your child say, “I can’t do it,” help them to reframe their statement to “I can’t do this yet.”|
|Praise your child’s effort, outcome, or insight, and transform your child’s challenges into learning opportunities for future success.||Try using these statements: “I can see you worked so hard on this!” or “That was really hard. Your effort has paid off. Next time you’ll be ready for this kind of challenge!”|
|Model how you work through your own struggles.||Explain to your child your process of trying, learning, and growing.|
|Talk about the brain!||Remind your child that their brain is still growing and persisting during challenges helps make their brain stronger – the neurons in their brain are connecting.|
|Acknowledge the emotions that often accompany learning.||Facing challenges related to learning can be frustrating and our fight or flight response is activated when these emotions occur. Empathize with your child during these moments and introduce some breathing techniques that will help them get through those feelings of frustration.|
Books to Pair
- Y is for Yet by Shannon Anderson
- What the Road Said by Cleo Wade
- Bella’s Recipe for Success by Ana Siqueira
- Fauja Singh Keeps Going by Simran Jeet Singh
- The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
- The Magical Yet by Angela DiTerlizzi
- Jabari Tries by Gaia Cornwall
- The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Mark Pett & Gary Rubinstein
- A Walk in the Words by Hudson Talbott
- You Fantastic Elastic Brain by JoAnn Deak
Carol Dweck’s Mindset Assessment
Curious about which mindset you have? You can use this assessment tool, inspired by Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, to determine whether you have a growth or fixed mindset. Remember, your mindset can change and, depending on the situation, one mindset may be more beneficial than the other!
- A growth mindset can lead to life-long benefits for your child’s development and well-being
- Mindsets can be taught and reinforced
- Practice, praise, model, and acknowledge to nurture a growth mindset
Be vibrant and keep thriving!
This article was last reviewed or updated on September 22, 2023.
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