Tips to develop growth mindset in kids
You are at your job and make a report. If you get poor feedback on the report from your boss. You will crib about it and will blame your boss and his skills. You will be in bad mood all day or you will take help to improve it. See what can be done better with the report. Do it and move on! Another example, Guests are there at your home. You tried a new recipe and it did not work that well. What would be your reaction? Will you be embarrassed? Or will you bounce back and try to make it better next time. Psychologist Carol Dweck, a researcher at Stanford University, says these are some everyday examples of growth and a fixed mindset.
What are Growth Mindset and Fixed Mindset?
- We all have beliefs about our skills and potential. These are part of our mindset. This influences our actions and behavior in a particular situation. A growth mindset is a belief that our abilities (mental and physical) can be increased. We can rewire our brains to become better at that difficult subject or basketball. This will happen with effort, practice, and the right strategies.
- A fixed mindset means you think you can’t get better at things. Even if you practice it will not help you. These people take no effort at improving their skills. Not able to accept failures. Giving up. Deciding we are not good at something are all examples of a fixed mindset.
Why is it important to develop a growth mindset in kids?
Is intelligence something you are born with or it develops? Am I born not good at maths or Science? How parents answer these questions impacts the mindset of kids. If you or your kid keeps repeating “I am not a math person”. “This is not my cup of tea” signifies Fixed Mindset. No matter how much you practice you cannot rewire your brain to become better at Maths. This is not the mindset you want your children to grow up with. This will make them afraid of failures. They will not be ready to try new things. This impacts the kind of adult they will grow up to be.
With practice, the right strategies, and the will to learn from mistakes, kids can become more intelligent. Directly speaking by adopting a growth mindset, they can rewire their brain to become better at maths, science, or basketball. Children will start seeing failures as a challenge to try better and harder next time. They will not get upset or demotivated by it. And this mindset will benefit them in adulthood as well. For example, they will be ready to try a new project at the office. Retake the Maths Olympiad.
Ways to develop:
- Tell about the brain. How it works and gets stronger: You might think they won’t understand this, but anyway go ahead and try it. You will be surprised how excited they get about brain rewiring. They will become more ready to learn.
- Explain the concept of two mindsets: for doing this you can use books or videos, there is a list of books and a youtube video link attached below.
- Model growth mindset yourself: Children learn from observing their parents. So make sure to mind your words. For example, instead of saying “this is so difficult”. Say- “this is so difficult, I better keep trying”.
- Show your mistakes: you don’t always have to act perfect. It’s our natural tendency to hide our mistakes. But if you show your struggle and children see how you are working through them, they will tend to do the same.
Some more ways:
- The power of the word “Yet”: Instead of saying -“I can’t write” “I can’t dance”. Try saying “I can’t write yet” or “I can’t dance yet”, and see the change in thinking happening.
- Praise hard work over the result: Start praising effort and process instead of the result. This will inspire kids to work hard, instead of becoming people pleasers. A very common example, don’t just say good boy/girl or you are so smart. Start saying “I like how you worked hard on that math problem”. ‘It was good of you to try it again.
- Praise them for being persistent: Notice your kids working hard on something. It doesn’t mean you have to applaud them every time; you can also just drop in and say ‘you are working very hard on that aren’t you?’
- Foster a healthy attitude for failure and challenge: Teach your kids that failure and difficult tasks are an opportunity to grow.
- Prevent labeling your child or others: Saying statements like, you are so smart or you are not good at dancing communicates a fixed mindset. Instead, try to use the word yet for growth mindset.
Read these books for your kids:
Books are an amazing way to learn a growth mindset. Here is a list of books, broken down by age:
- Bubble Gum Brain by Julia Cook
- Thanks for the Feedback, I Think by Julia Cook
- I Knew You Could: A Book for All Stops in Your Life by Craig Dorfman
- Making a Splash – Growth Mindset for Kids by Carol Reiley
- Your Fantastic Elastic Brain: Stretch It, Shape It By JoAnn Deak
- A Walk in the Rain with a Brain by Edward Hallowell
- My Day Is Ruined! A Story Teaching Flexible Thinking by Bryan Smith
- Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn for Kids by John C. Maxwell
- When Pigs Fly by Valerie Coulman
- Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty
No one is perfect all the time. Don’t beat yourself up if you are not able to use a growth mindset all the time. It’s an overall way of looking at things. It is unrealistic to be able to use it all the time. Even though it is stated that you can strengthen any skill through a growth mindset but your child may have moments where they are unsure if they will ever be able to learn something. Just assure them to keep trying. The growth mindset feedback mechanism is not only good for typically developing kids but also special needs children.
Here is a Youtube link on how you can teach a growth mindset to your kids. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUJkbWNnNy4
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