By Jess Burnett Founder of Mind Traction, Mum of 3 and Secondary School Teacher
If you have school-age children, you’ve probably heard the term ‘growth mindset’ a lot in recent years. These words are the educational ‘buzz words’ of the current generation of kids!
If you graduated from secondary school before 2013, and don’t work in the education field, you may not be too familiar with the growth mindset teachings. The most you may have heard about growth mindset may be that you place a big ‘YET’ at the end of every sentence…
“I can’t do this, YET.”
We can all agree that throwing ‘yet’ at the end of a sentence isn’t going to help a child (or anyone!) achieve success. So, why don’t we dig a little deeper into what the growth mindset can do and how it works?
Let’s start with a little history! Where did the term ‘growth mindset’ originate?
Dr. Carol S. Dweck, a world-renowned psychology researcher, coined the term after years of investigation, which started with an obsession in understanding how people cope with failure.
Dr. Dweck identified that people have either a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.
Those with a fixed mindset do not put in extra effort to accomplish a goal, and they usually won’t ask for help. Instead, fixed-mindest folks have a belief that either you can do it or you can’t.
We all know someone like this…usually it is the person who is pretty cynical about life!
On the flip side of this, you have those with a growth mindset. Growth mindset people see a challenge or failure as an opportunity to try harder and learn new skills.
Growth mindset for our kids is all we want, right?!
Now that you have a basic definition of growth vs. fixed mindset, take a second to think about where you feel your mindset falls.
Struggling with failure is pretty standard, I think it’s safe to say we have all been there! However, it’s important to remember that kids are like little sponges. The way you deal with mistakes, challenges, and failures showcases the coping strategies your little ones will soak up and start to imitate. Thankfully, you don’t have to keep struggling! Let me help you develop healthy coping strategies for you AND your kids. Join my FREE 6-Part Video Mini-Course: Cultivating a Growth Mindset for Busy Parents today!
It is essential to recognize that we may have a growth mindset in some areas of our lives but a fixed mindset in others. The idea is to keep working on all areas of our lives until we can get them ALL fitting into the growth mindset category (#winning).
It is not just about educational or financial achievement either; imagine if more people had a growth mindset in the area of relationships? Hello, lower divorce rates!
When it comes to raising successful children, we need to recognize the importance of teaching our kids to believe that they can change or create anything in their life. Of course, success looks different for everyone – stay tuned for another blog post devoted entirely to figuring out what success means for you!
But, hold on, isn’t teaching kids about success the role of our schools?
Parents have a significant role to play when it comes to shaping their children’s mindset. I think I would be hard-pressed to find a parent who didn’t want to be the one responsible for the development of their child’s growth mindset! It all starts at home, after all.
So as parents raising successful kids, we need to teach our children that they CAN carve out their dream life by nurturing their development of a growth mindset. This growth mindset allows them to develop into a person who is capable of progress and achievement, after all.
The big question you might be asking yourself right now is, how do I do that? How do I inspire my kids to be the best version of themselves and ensure they live a life of happiness and fulfilment?
It’s easy to get started; let me share these three simple steps:
- Teach your kids about neuroplasticity.
Neuro-plasta-what-now? Don’t worry; you don’t need to get too scientific with your little ones. Keep it simple by explaining that the brain is malleable, and it can be rewired. Find a fun way to teach them that the brain is like a muscle, and the more you use it, the stronger it will become. Check out my YouTube video here for a fun, kid-friendly explanation!
- Demonstrate through your actions.
You need to show that, as an adult, you are still always learning, facing challenges, and making mistakes. Your kids need to see you struggle and fail, but more importantly, know how you overcome those obstacles. Let your little ones see you learn a new skill and commit with an effort to achieving a goal. Let them see that success doesn’t happen overnight, that it takes hard work and effort. Don’t hide your failures from your kids; learn from them together!
- Use your words wisely.
Watching your words is arguably the most important (and challenging!) part of parenting – choose your words wisely! As parents (and educators), we need to be aware that everything we say to our young people sends a message. We can either send a fixed-mindset message that says, “you have permanent traits, and I’m judging you” or a growth mindset message that says, “you are a developing person, and I’m here to help you.”
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If you ask me whether ‘growth mindset’ is simply the latest education system fad, I would say that the research of Dr. Dweck suggests otherwise. Growth mindset teaching has a place in the education system if done right, but perhaps more importantly, it needs to be practiced in the home.
Are you eager to get started right away? You can begin by changing the way you praise your child. The Next time you go to compliment your child’s intelligence, stop yourself from using these common phrases:
- You’re so smart
- You’re so clever
- You’re so brilliant
- You did that without even trying!
Instead, think about how you can praise your child’s effort. Try some of these phrases:
- Look how much effort you put into that!
- You worked so hard to learn something new, and your work has improved so much!
- You tried so hard, look at how your hard work paid off!
Research shows that if your child has a mindset dedicated to growth, learning and development, they are far more likely to live a life of success and fulfilment. On the other hand, a child with a fixed mindset (often one who has had their intelligence praised instead of their effort) will avoid challenges in all areas of life, experience self-doubt, and often develop low self-worth.
You might be wondering, if your child has a growth mindset, will that make them successful? Well, no. Not on its own.
Having a growth mindset is a necessary part of achieving success, but it’s not the only part needed to reach goals and live a life filled with success. Subscribe to my monthly newsletter and email list, so you don’t miss out as I delve into a holistic approach to living a successful and gratifying life.
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