I have been very intrigued by the theory of possessing a growth mindset. I have read numerous studies and articles and watched countless videos on how to implement it. The thought that setting yourself up for an always learning and growing way of thinking, is fabulous.
The growth mindset theory doesn’t mean that you will get everything that you dream of just because you ask for it. However, it does say that if you set yourself up for dealing with failure, which will come whether you want it to or not, properly then you have a better chance of overcoming it in the future.
Fascinating right?! Now picture this. We don’t just praise our children and tell them that all their dreams, and wishes will come true because they deserve it no matter what effort they put out into attaining it. Mind blown correct?!
If we set our children up to not value themselves based on how smart everyone tells them that they are, but rather to continuously work towards growing and learning in order to make their own dreams come true, then the possibilities are endless.
Think about as a child coming home with a test or assignment that you did well on and the big deal that was placed on the high grade you got. Now picture another time where your grade wasn’t as successful and how awful internally you felt. How you would possibly think of ways to not only get a better grade next time, but even cheat, avoid and deflect from it completely to avoid feeling like that again.
If you had a growth mindset about it you may think more like, I didn’t get the grade that I wanted to get YET, but let me sit down and brainstorm what I can do to possibly do better next time. No self shaming, no devaluing, just dealing with it, and moving on in an upward momentum.
I’ve been really working through ideas on how to build my children’s self esteem in productive ways that don’t include just telling them they’re awesome all of the time. Or smart. Or beautiful etc. Building amazing, resilient, children who have appetites for continuous learning and problem solving is the goal. So how can we attain this?
Below is a list of ways that you can start to foster a growth mindset in your children (and even yourself)!
Teach your children about how the brain itself works. Talk about the brain being a muscle and “elastic” and that it can change how it actually works. There’s a great series on YouTube geared towards younger children that I have shown my own children and love. I’ve included the episode about this below 🙂
Talk about the difference between a growth mindset and fixed mindset. Explain that having a fixed mindset is very black and white thinking. That failing a test doesn’t mean that they have failed. Learning from mistakes and growing from them is valued higher than just bringing home the academic bacon so to speak.
Model positive self talk to your children. You can do all of the groundwork for this and then at the end of the day talk about how you have failed at your diet because you haven’t lost any weight and model to them that you are of a very fixed mindset in this area and ruin all of the work that you have actually put in. If you too model positive self talk and practise the growth mindset model yourself, your children will have a way better chance of adapting it to their own lives much easier.
Recognize hard work and effort. If you have ever worked so hard to have the end result not meet your expectations, then this one will resonate with you. Imagine if growing up your parents, teachers, and peers recognized and praised you more not on the grade but rather the effort that was put into the assignment along the way. Phrases like “you are working so very hard on this project”, or “I am so proud of all of the research that you have been doing”. It just solidifies the fact that there is much more weight in the process rather than the end result.
Teach goal setting. This is such a valuable practice to learn as well as to teach your children. I wrote an article recently about goal setting and how to do it in a manner that sets you up for success. How we set goals definitely can affect if we are able to attain them or not. Click here to check out my article for 7 steps towards doing so.
The almighty power of “YET”. Let’s go back to the weight scenario I used above for a minute. Picture yourself at the scale. You have been exercising and eating right and really working hard at your overall health for some time. You step on the scale to see little to no difference. Frustrating right?
Now picture it if you were able to look at that scale and measure the work and effort that you have been doing and being able to say to yourself “well I am not there YET. But I will be.” Holy powerful! Even better, what if you actually meant it?
This process certainly isn’t easy. Especially if you have been living a very fixed mindset lifestyle for possibly all of your life. But even if you try a few little things at first. Really work on your own positive self talk and using the word yet whenever you and your children have a negative fixed mindset moment. Retraining the brain takes hard work but it is so worth it. You may not have it yet. But you will!
Set an example. Showing your children that you also possess a growth mindset is gold. Along with the positive self talk, they will learn far more from watching you than anything you could say. Discuss challenges that you are facing and talk about the ways that you are working through them. Let them see you make mistakes and how you deal with them positively. Take on difficult tasks with confidence and celebrate the failures that you faced and then the plan to overcome them. Celebrating failures is huge.
One of my favourite children’s movies is Meet the Robinsons. The main character Lewis meets a family who is super accepting of him and they are constantly so excited when they fail and then continue on. Lewis is fixed mindset. He fails and quits and feels like a failure etc. Then he meets Growth Mindset on a large scale in this whole family and they are always so proud of him for failing! Lewis eventually starts to live this way and then his inventions start to work.
The movie is absolutely fabulous and a hit in our house. It is such a wonderful example of this theory and is being targeted at children! How perfect is that?
Below I have included a clip of Carol Dweck talking about Growth Mindset. She is an excellent speaker on this topic and aside from this video there is a whole library of videos, articles and books by her that you can use to help you to introduce it to yourself and your family.
For more resources and ideas I have an extensive Pinterest board committed to this subject. It can be checked out here.