We want our children to believe that their effort pays off. So, how do we help instill a growth mindset in children? One way is to role model. Talk about your mistakes and how you recovered and persevered. Talk about what has been difficult for you in the past or the present. Show your children how you are problem solving through it and will keep persisting. Another way is to praise their process rather than their outcome. Instead of “Wahoo! You scored two goals in that game!”, tell them, “Wahoo! You ran so hard and really pushed through feeling a little tired this morning”. Instead of “You’re a natural at that!”, say, “Wow, I wonder what your next challenge could be to work towards”. If we show children that we only care about the outcome, they will be disheartened when something is difficult for them or they are not perfect at something. Then they are more likely to give up. We want them to know that sometimes we all fail, make mistakes or have difficulty. What matters and what will give us the longest-lasting positive effect, is to keep working and trying new ways.
My favorite way of introducing this concept to children is using books. The books help explain it on a child’s level and the metaphor from the books can be used day-to-day. My favorite is BubbleGum Brain. This book demonstrates how to unwrap your gum wrapper so your brain can be flexible and grow and stretch.
If you’re interested in assessing your mindset (for ages 12 and up), you can do so here.
Finally, if you read all of this and are beating yourself up for not having a growth mindset or teaching your children to have one, just remember, you don’t have a growth mindset YET, but you can always try something new.