If you’ve ever experienced the joy of raising a little child then you’ve probably seen their eyes light up when they learn something new. When a child learns that their hands can clap together and make music, or their mouths can make words that people can understand, it makes them happy. They aren’t concerned about succeeding or failing when learning these things for the first time. Instead, their minds want to keep on exploring the world around them and finding out more about what they can do. As a result, they’ll keep on trying until they’re triumphant. This is a result of the natural growth mindset in your child.
However, is it the same when you compare that with many adults you know?
Would you be willing to eagerly try and embrace a brand new challenge until you’ve mastered it? Or will you avoid it because you’re scared of failing?
Many people are scared of failing and this simply tells us how powerful the beauty and joy of childhood are. Children find the process of learning something new exciting and it’s a skill you can encourage and cultivate in them as they grow older.
So how can you encourage a growth mindset in your child?
Before we answer this question, it’s important to understand the meaning of a growth mindset and why it’s important.
- What is a growth mindset?
- Difference between fixed mindset and growth mindset
- Benefits of adopting a growth mindset
- How to establish a growth mindset in your child
What is a growth mindset?
A mindset is a belief we have about our intelligence and abilities. Therefore, someone with a growth mindset has that belief that their abilities can improve and change over time with effort. In other words, a growth mindset is having the desire to try new things and attempt new challenges. Basically, someone with a growth mindset places value on the lessons learned during these attempts rather than the results. For example, if a child with a growth mindset is learning to draw for the first time, they will enjoy the process of learning how to hold the pencil, before eventually drawing new shapes. This act of learning is fun to them. They don’t care about drawing a perfect shape the first time – they simply want to enjoy the process.
However, there is another kind of mindset that is completely different from having a growth mindset. It’s called the fixed mindset.
Difference between fixed mindset and growth mindset
Highlighted below are some of the key differences between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.
Giving up (fixed) vs. persistence and resilience (growth)
A growth mindset fosters persistence and resilience; a fixed mindset kills it. As a result, children with a fixed mindset believe that they’re not good enough, smart enough, or creative enough unless they’re genetically blessed. On the other hand, children with a growth mindset believe that the right amount of effort is all that stands between them and success.
Lack confidence (fixed) vs. confidence (growth)
Most children with a fixed mindset often believe that they don’t have what it takes, especially if they’ve tried already and failed. This often happens when the child believes that success means you’re smart and clever. So failure to them simply means that they aren’t good enough. As a result, their lack of confidence spills into other tasks which might dampen their love for learning.
Avoid challenging tasks (fixed) vs. embrace challenging tasks
Children with a fixed mindset often prefer choosing easy tasks when given the choice to choose. This is a result of their belief that their intelligence is fixed and impossible to change. Hence, they often choose easy tasks to prove themselves and this leaves very limited scope for them to learn and grow. In contrast, children with a growth mindset embrace challenges because they see them as an opportunity to learn and grow.
Hide their struggles (fixed) vs. seek help (growth)
Do you know that children with a fixed mindset are more likely to hide their struggles and lie about their mistakes? Yes, they are. According to research by Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, about 40% of children who were praised for their intellect lied when asked to anonymously disclose the number of mistakes they made, compared to 10% of children who were praised for their efforts.
Moreover, when a child believes that intelligence and brilliance are fixed, they’ll identify themselves as “smart” or “not smart”. As a result, they see mistakes as evidence of a lack of inherent capability. Thus, they will try to stop the world from seeing them as “incapable” or “stupid”. Children with a growth mindset on the other hand are more likely to seek help when they are facing any difficult challenge.
Benefits of adopting a growth mindset
Adopting a growth mindset can pave the way for lifelong success. Through many obstacles in life, you can learn all the important skills you need to motivate yourself and others. Here are some of the benefits of adopting a growth mindset:
Having a growth mindset can help children excel in their academics. This is because they will understand that you don’t have to be a genius to be the best; you can only excel through hard work and by making an effort.
Having a growth mindset allows you to step out of your comfort zone with passion and perseverance to achieve your long-term goals. According to psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth, “Grit is sticking with your future on a daily basis, not just for weeks or months, but for years, and also working hard to achieve that future”.
Ready to take on challenges
Every individual with a growth mindset knows that success is a journey. According to Daniel Koh, a psychologist at Insights Mind Centre, “people with a growth mindset see challenges as an opportunity to learn, and for fear of being overwhelmed, use it as a tool to improve rather than avoiding it altogether”.
How to establish a growth mindset in your child
Every parent, teacher, or adult has the extraordinary power to steer young children towards the happy headspace of a growth mindset. Here’s how:
Be a positive role model
As you’ve probably noticed, young children often mimic every little thing we do and soak up every little word we say. Therefore, you need to be a positive role model for your kids. When they see you accepting new challenges and trying new things with enthusiasm, they’ll follow your lead.
Furthermore, how you respond when faced with obstacles is vital. If you teach your kid that an obstacle is something to learn from and be better at, then they’ll learn from their own experiences.
Don’t praise results, praise effort
Another way you can encourage a growth mindset in your child is to praise their efforts, and not their results. Instead of saying, “Wow, you got all A’s in your result, you’re so smart!” you could say, “Wow, you got all A’s in your result, you must have studied hard!”. While it may seem like a little difference, you’d be surprised by how this simple change can grow your child’s mindset. The first example of praise can lead your child to believe that not being the best means they’re not smart enough. However, the second example will teach your child to work harder if they don’t achieve their desired results.
Always use the word ‘yet’
With just the words “yet” or “not yet”, we give our children greater confidence and a path to a future that creates greater sustainability,” Dweck says. By simply using that word “yet”, you’ve changed your mindset into thinking that while you haven’t been able to learn a particular skill, you can keep trying until you learn it.
Encourage and show them the value of learning
When you notice your child is trying to learn something new and keep stumbling over different obstacles, this is where you step in. You should encourage them and explain to them that obstacles are just stepping stones on the path to success. This will help them figure out how to overcome these obstacles.
Change the narrative
You should encourage your child when you hear them saying things like “it’s too difficult” or “I don’t know if I can do this”. Make them understand that it’s okay if they don’t get it the first time, and encourage them to look at the problem a different way. By simply doing this, you’re changing the narrative and encouraging a growth mindset in your child.
Teach them about having a growth mindset
If your kids are a little older you can talk to them about the importance of having a growth mindset. Explain the word “growth mindset” to them with examples that they can picture. For example, the riding-a-bike lightbulb glows just a bit when you ride a bike for the first time. However, the more you practice and learn how to ride, the brighter the lightbulb will glow. It’s the same with your brain – you’re capable of learning amazing things and strengthening your brain.
Establishing a growth mindset in your child will set them for a life filled with bravery, curiosity, and resilience. At Perfect Angels Learning Center, we establish a growth mindset in your child by encouraging them as they grow, learn, and strive to become the best possible version of themselves. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about our services.