A student’s mindset can often hinder their ability to learn successfully and see their full potential. That’s why it’s so important to help your children strive to develop a ‘Growth Mindset’, which is an engaged and motivated attitude towards learning. In fact, Stanford psychologist, Carol Dweck, carried out a study on thousands of students to investigate just how much of an impact mindset has on motivation levels, grades and overall performance at school. With two groups of students, one received brief training on ‘Growth Mindset’, whilst the others were just regular students. The results showed just how powerful the mind is, with each group showcasing astonishingly different beliefs in regards to learning. Here’s some ways you can help your child start to foster a growth mindset and set them up for academic success and life success!
What is a Fixed Mindset?
A ‘Fixed Mindset’ student often has a very rigid belief system when it comes to learning.
- You’re clever or you’re not
- Some people are just inherently bright
- If you get it wrong, you’re not that clever
- Some people can do it, some people can’t
What Is A Growth Mindset?
A ‘Growth Mindset’ student will usually have a much more flexible and positive attitude towards learning.
- Everybody can learn
- The learning process involves trying new things
- Making mistakes is normal and an important part of learning
How Can I Help My Child Develop a Growth Mindset?
There are lots of small things you can start doing every day that will help your kids develop a growth mindset.
Set Higher Expectations
It’s often believed that lowering expectations promotes self-esteem in kids (eg. ‘don’t worry, let’s try something easier’), however this isn’t the case. In fact, having high expectations works like a self-fulfilling prophecy. If a child sets themselves a target of achieving a high grade in an exam, it actually shows they believe they can do it. This then has a positive impact on their own beliefs and behaviour as well as fosters their growth mindset.
Encourage Kids To Never Give Up
An excellent way to start developing a growth mindset, is encouraging your kids to never give up, regardless if what they’re struggling with is educational or just part of their everyday life. Do this by helping your child to understand that challenges are in fact a positive thing as it means they are growing their brains and actually learning something valuable. Knowing this and believing it will soon mean they start to be comfortable with the times they’re struggling as they can recognise that it’s a sign of real learning.
Being afraid of making mistakes can often stop children from giving something a go in the first place. It’s crucial to teach your kids that we all make mistakes, so instead of being defeated by them, try to embrace failing and use it as a learning opportunity, rather than feeling embarrassed about it. If your kids know that it’s okay to get it wrong sometimes, you will be able to watch their willingness to take risks and experiment with alternative ways of doing things. Not only will this expand their creativity, problem solving and readiness to embrace a challenge, but will actually show them just how capable they really are. After all, if we are not making mistakes then we are not actually stretching ourselves.
Use Inspirational Role Models
To start fostering a growth mindset, it’s important to start challenging how your kids are currently thinking. A great way to do this is by using inspirational role models such as your child’s favourite athlete, musician or author. Together, talk about their journey to success, focusing on their early efforts, strong work ethic, and the mistakes and learning that led them to where they are now. Doing this shows children that if someone has done well in life, they aren’t just ‘born that way’, and that having a positive ‘can do’ mindset along with lots of hard work and dedication is the real reason they’re successful.
Praise Persistence Over Results
Any time you see your kids putting in effort, working hard towards a goal or being persistent, make sure you acknowledge it. It’s also better to attach your praise to something specific. Rather than- 'You're really smart,' try- 'It was really clever the way you experimented with a few different ways to solve that problem. Great work!' We guarantee it will mean a lot to your child that you took the time to notice and also reinforces that learning is a process not just a result.