What Does It Mean for Kids to Have a Growth Mindset?
This guest post is written by our friends at Mindful & Co Kids who offer yoga tools and mindfulness exercises that give children the knowledge and skills to move through the world consciously.
What is a growth mindset?
A growth mindset is an attitude that focuses on motivation, resilience, and persistence while a fixed mindset does not. When people with a fixed mindset believe they can't do something, they generally blame not being smart enough, creative enough, or good enough. Children who have a growth mindset, on the other hand, are more likely to keep working hard towards a goal, believing that all that stands between them and success is the right amount of effort.
Nurturing a Growth Mindset
It’s important to know that caregivers have enormous power to steer children towards a happy headspace that nurtures the can-do attitude of a growth mindset. Here are 5 tips for nurturing a growth mindset in your child:
- Regularly tell them that our brains can get stronger. The more they realize and believe this, the more empowered they will be.
- Pay attention to their effort over the results and praise their persistence when something gets challenging.
- Be specific with your praise. For example, instead of "You did a great job", try, "You put in such a great effort on your drawing".
- Use the word 'yet' and use it often. When they say "I don't know how to do it", encourage them to replace it with, "I don't know how to do it yet". Be consistent with this language change and they’ll eventually learn to do this for themselves. Self-talk is a powerful thing.
- Model a growth mindset. As a caregiver, it’s important to embrace a growth mindset so you can demonstrate it to your child. Learning how to be proud of your own efforts in life and facing new challenges is critical in helping your child discover this type of mindset. You can also show them they don't always have to be successful to be okay. Demonstrate this when you make a mistake and let them see that you’re okay.
Practicing mindfulness can also be a proactive tool that complements a growth mindset as it can help caregivers and children identify limiting beliefs and bring awareness to being a “positive work in progress”.
If you’re looking for ways to begin this conversation, here are 5 questions you can ask your child to foster self-awareness and develop a growth mindset:
- What are your thoughts telling you? If their brain is telling them something negative, teach your child about self-talk and how it improves their confidence. Teach them to respond out loud by saying “No brain, you’re wrong. I can try this”.
- What part is hard? What will happen if you try? These questions help children identify what’s difficult and help stop catastrophizing.
- How far have you already come? Asking your child to step back and see how far they’ve come is important in looking at the bigger picture and recognizing their achievements.
- What tools could you use to overcome this challenge today? Discuss strategies used in the past to problem solve or to break through the fixed mindset that’s holding them back. This can be things like self-talk, revisiting the challenge when they aren’t tired, or sleeping on it.
- What mistakes have you made to get to where you are now? Teach your little one to recognize their mistakes. This helps them learn that a mistake is not a failure but a lesson for learning.
Incorporating the simple strategies above will allow you to regularly steer your child towards a more positive mindset and encourage a love of learning. We hope these tips and activities have been useful to you and your family. For more like this, make sure to follow @mindfulandcokids on Instagram and visit mindfulandcokids.com.