A growth mindset for kids sets them up to win throughout all of life.
A growth mindset is the belief that, through effort, strength and intelligence can increase. On the other hand, a fixed mindset is a belief that intelligence is a fixed trait that’s determined at birth.
An example of this would be a child who believes he or she is bad at something like math. Instead of recognizing that it’s possible to get better through effort, he or she just says, “I’m just bad at math.” Over time, he or she will probably stop trying to improve, altogether.
Kids who have a growth mindset see failure as an opportunity for growth and just part of the process. For kids with a fixed mindset, school can be a scary place because they can feel constant pressure to prove their ability. They’re also afraid of failure, so they’re less inclined to want to take risks and “look dumb” in front of their peers.
If you’re worried that your child might have a fixed mindset, never fear.
We recently spoke to life coach Debbie Pace, who shared with us how you can use words to create a growth mindset for kids.
How to Use Words to Create a Growth Mindset for Kids
Have you ever found yourself saying, “You’re so smart!” to your child?
Let’s be honest, we all have at some point.
Unfortunately, without meaning too, we put too much emphasis on the word “smart” and not enough on how hard a child has worked on something.
The problem is that when we focus on how smart a child is, we’re telling them (without realizing it) that we expect them to constantly achieve.
But we all know, Mom and Dad, that failure is just a part of the process. Your kids aren’t always going to hit a home run. They’re going to fail sometimes. And without a growth mindset, when kids don’t perform at the level they want, they start to beat themselves up.
The way we can empower them is to acknowledge the part of them that gave something their best effort.
Something else you can do is be forthcoming about your own mistakes and failures. Doing so shows your kids that it’s okay to make mistakes. You’re demonstrating resiliency.
If what we’re demonstrating (or telling them) is that failure is a bad thing, they’ll avoid it at all costs. They’ll be less likely to take risks because they want to avoid the possibility of not achieving success.
But by praising effort and talking about your own, everyday mistakes and failures, you’re normalizing failure. You’re teaching them that it’s better to take a risk and not succeed and learn something new, rather than stay in your own safe comfort zone.
According to Understood.org, “What’s most important is to praise the way [your child] approached the challenge, not how hard they tried or how well they did. For instance, you might praise your child for the way she solved a math problem or how she organized her homework to get it all done.
This is called process praise. It’s the most helpful type of praise for promoting a growth mindset. It puts the emphasis on the steps your child took to get to the end result.”
Conclusion: Benefits of Growth Mindset for Kids
Kids who have a growth mindset believe that their abilities – intelligence, strength, creativity, etc. – can improve over time. They’re accepting of and open to feedback and believe that you learn and grow from experience. They recognize that failure is just part of the process and believe that even if they fail at something, they can still succeed.
Kids who have a growth mindset are more comfortable taking risks and trying new things, setting more ambitious goals, have lower stress, and, in general, have higher performance levels.
If you’re not sure whether your child has a fixed or growth mindset, that’s okay. You can still encourage and create a growth mindset through words, by praising your child’s effort and the process he/she took to reach a goal (win or fail).
Also keep in mind that, according to Dweck, one of the common misconceptions about the growth mindset is that either you have it or you don’t. In fact, we all have a mix of fixed and growth mindsets that change based on the experiences we have and the feedback we get.
Do you use this method of communicating with your own kids? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!