6 Ways to Raise Children with a Growth Mindset - FairfieldMoms

By: Preeti Sandhu, PsyD

Ever worry about your child’s desire to learn? Are you concerned that they do not feel as smart as other kids, but do not know how to change this outlook? A positive attitude can help them reshape their perspective on learning and what it means to achieve a goal.

For years, researchers have looked into the effects of a growth mindset. Dr. Carol Dweck, an American psychologist from Stanford University, first developed the theory, describing it as achieving success from a mindset focused on growth rather than a fixed view. We all have the ability to gain skills…

What is a fixed vs. a growth mindset? 

A fixed mindset is when a child sees their intelligence or abilities as predetermined and unable to be changed. With a growth mindset, a child believes they can achieve their goals with hard work. This perspective gives them the ability to improve any skill or even change their intelligence.

Those with a growth mindset focus on learning from their failures rather than worrying about being judged by them.

When those with a fixed mindset fail at a task, they dwell on that failure and never want to try again in fear of damaging their ego, while those with a growth mindset take what they learned from that failure and use it to motivate them going forward.

Even if they have expressed signs of a fixed mindset in the past, it is still not too late to raise our children with a mindset promoting growth.

Benefits of a growth mindset

Having a growth mindset can have long lasting benefits that can affect children into adulthood.

  • Motivation that gives them a chance at greater success
  • Development of grit: an attitude that prevents giving up
  • Higher grades
  • Achievement of goals, skills, and tasks
  • The ability to face difficult times
  • The ability to grow from failure

6 ways to develop a child’s growth mindset

To help your child gain a growth mindset, it is better to praise their process rather than the result. Here are 5 ways to do so:

  1. Focus on their effort. For example, when they get a good score on a test, instead of saying “You’re so smart,” you can say “I’m so proud, I know how much you studied.”
  2. Encourage them to embrace challenges. Children will stunt their learning if they take the easiest tasks to make them feel safe. If they want to get better at math, encourage them to try the hardest problems. If they want to become a better singer, encourage them to audition for a solo. They’ll never learn if they never try.
  3. Treat criticism positively. If a teacher criticizes their work, don’t let them throw in the towel and assume their worth. Promote the criticism as a teaching moment, and let it motivate them for next time.
  4. Think of the word “fail” differently. FAIL is an acronym that stands for first attempt in learning. It’s a good thing!
  5. Find them healthy role models. Give them inspiration by referencing their favorite superhero, celebrity, character, or family member who worked hard to achieve their goals after facing every obstacle.
  6. Set your own example. The simplest way to inspire your child is by demonstrating the same behavior as their parent. Growth mindset can benefit adults as much as children, and utilizing it yourself can influence your child to do the same.

These different techniques are only the beginning to developing a child’s growth mindset, but with practice, our children might start to look at the world in a more positive light and see themselves with more confidence in their abilities.

For more Connecticut Children’s articles like this, visit their Back to School toolkit

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