What can a growth mindset do for a child?
Children with a growth mindset feel free to change, grow, take on challenges, and try new things. It makes them more resilient to any changes and setbacks that come their way. They are less likely to judge themselves and others and more likely to wonder what might be next or how they can improve a situation.
• A child with a growth mindset who maybe struggles with reading, believes that with practise and effort they can improve.
• A child with a growth mindset who is already good at a sport believes that they can do even better if they work at it.
• A child with a growth mindset who is being bullied believes that the bullying will stop and that they don’t always have to be the victim.
• A child with a growth mindset is motivated to set their own goals and work towards achieving them; they won’t accept that they can’t follow their chosen dream.
How can we help develop a growth mindset in a child?
Some children seem naturally more confident or curious than others, but they can all grow. We can develop our children’s confidence and their growth mindset if we love, support, encourage – and gently challenge them: Find examples which show that people have the potential to change and talk about them with your children. These might be stories, books, movies, news items, family histories, sports events … there are examples everywhere.
Admit that we all have a “fixed” mindset voice and at times this tells us we’re going to fail, deserve to fail, or can never change things. Reassure them that we also have a “growth” mindset voice … and we need to encourage it to speak out and speak back to the fixed one. Get them to practise the growth voice:
“I can do this, if I try”, “I’ll never know if I don’t give it a go”, “Who cares if I look silly – everyone looks stupid sometimes!”
Empower them to make choices and try new things. Let them know you’ll love and support them, regardless, and that no one succeeds or wins all the time. We often learn more from mistakes, setbacks and epic fails than from playing it “safe”. Just take a look at the history of science and invention. As Einstein once noted: “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
Harness YETI power. If they’re worried they can’t do something, or do it well, emphasise that they can’t do it YET. Then get them to think of all the things they’ve learned to do in their life, and suggest this is just one more.
Encourage them to embrace change, whether they’ve gone looking for it, or it has found them. This may mean accepting that sometimes our plans don’t always work out the way we want. It could mean accepting that failure can be part of learning. The second we choose to change a situation, or accept change, we open the door to growth. We can choose to respond to criticism or setbacks in a positive manner and use them to make changes for the better; and we can choose to make changes by challenging ourselves even when all seems to be going pretty well.