Promoting a Growth Mindset

My previous post on Growth Mindset discussed strategies for teaching Growth Mindset principles to your child. And while this is an important first step, the real power comes in reminding your child of these principles and promoting them on a day to day basis. Helping your child develop a Growth Mindset involves first making sure that they have the tools and strategies that they need in order to be successful, and then reminding them that when they pair these strategies with hard work and persistence they can grow their brains and become better at anything that they put their mind to.

When it comes to making sure your child has access to strategies and tools that work for them, I recommend setting up a meeting with your child’s teacher. Find out which areas they think your child needs to improve in the most, and what suggestions they have for accelerating this improvement. If your child’s teacher suggests that they receive additional help outside the classroom, then seek out additional learning services at school or in an after-school learning or tutoring program. Also, ask for suggestions about what you can do at home each week to help your child improve.

When your child is trying out new strategies and working on things that are hard for them, encourage a Growth Mindset by taking the following steps:

  1. Remind your child that when they work hard they are growing their brain. When we lift weights our muscles grow stronger. We know they are stronger because over time it becomes easier to lift heavier weights. Remind your child that when we challenge our brains by working on things that are hard for us, our brains get stronger too. We know they’re getting stronger because math problems, books, and writing assignments that were hard for us become easier over time. And we get more answer correct the first time around.
  2.  Praise Growth Mindset goals. When your child is working hard, tie your praise to our Growth Mindset goals. Praise them for stepping up to a challenge, trying out new strategies, working hard, and improving. Overall, you’ll be most successful at fostering a Growth Mindset when you focus your praise on your child’s process rather than on your child’s grades and achievement.
  3. Counter Fixed Mindset thoughts with Growth Mindset alternatives. When kids are frustrated they are likely to have a whole host of Fixed Mindset thoughts that get in the way. When they voice these thoughts, try to come up with Growth Mindset alternatives that can help your child think differently about their situation. They may not seem too receptive in the moment, especially if they’re feeling very frustrated. But over time, they will hear you and will start to come up with these Growth Mindset alternatives on their own. Here are some examples to help you get started:

Fixed Mindset: I always make mistakes!

Growth Mindset: When we correct our mistakes, we grow our brains.

Fixed Mindset: I can’t…

Growth Mindset: You haven’t done it … yet!

Fixed Mindset: This stuff is easy for other kids.

Growth Mindset: With new strategies and practice it will become easier for you too.

Helping your child develop a Growth Mindset will take time. After all, they’ve probably been living with a Fixed Mindset for years. Be persistent and look for small, gradual improvements. Mindsets are fluid, so don’t be surprised if sometimes your child is able to maintain Growth Mindset and other times they are firmly stuck in a Fixed Mindset. The goal is to help them spend more time in a Growth Mindset framework than they were able to in the past. Over time, their motivation and self-esteem will improve, and you’ll notice that they are more willing to take risks and step up to challenges at school and in life.

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