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Developing A Growth Mindset – 5 Tips for Parents

Mother sitting with her young child reading

Developing a Growth Mindset

If you have a growth mindset, you believe that with work, practice, and perseverance, you can improve – whether it’s your academic performance, or any other skill. (Those with the opposite, a fixed mindset, believe that our intelligence and talents are predisposed, and either you were born with it or not.)

Thanks to the great work of Stanford’s Carol Dweck, we know that not only is the growth mindset accurate, but those who hold these beliefs actually improve more than those with a fixed mindset, which makes it so essential for our kids!

How you can help foster a growth mindset at home:


1. Pay attention and verbally praise kids for skills that don’t sound predetermined: hard work, persistence, rising to a challenge, learning from a mistake, etc., rather than being “smart”, “brilliant” or “gifted”.Recently my girls brought me a song they had recorded together, and said they had to do it 10 times to get it right. I made sure to tell them I was just as proud of their persistence as I would have been if the song had been perfect the first time.
2. Be a growth mindset role model. Be honest: how often do you say “I can’t (cook/sing/balance my bank account)” or “I’m terrible at (sports/spelling/public speaking)” as if there’s no hope for you? Make sure you’re sending the right message – maybe even take on something new! (Relax, it doesn’t have to be cooking. Sorry, just thinking out loud.)My students and daughters all know that I expect them to finish any sentence about something they are currently unable to do with the word “yet”!
3. Encourage your child to forget taking the easy route (where little learning is done) and instead embrace challenges. A sheet full of questions he already knows the answers to won’t “grow the brain” like one deeper problem to solve (even if he doesn’t get the correct answer).
4. Remember growth mindset isn’t just academic; it applies to many areas of life (athletic, musical, social). Having trouble getting the basketball into the net? Keep making mistakes on a guitar chord? Tried to initiate play with someone but it didn’t go well? Discuss the next step for improvement.
5. Discourage envy of peers, and talk to your child about what he or she can learn from others who appear more successful. While skills may come more easily to some, most often there’s a (possibly unseen) element of practice, persistence, and hard work which leads to achievement.

Embracing a growth mindset isn’t always easy, but can have a huge impact on your child…
and perhaps on you, too!


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