Our mindset is how we see things in the world and it can give us the power to think positively and achieve our goals.
However, not all mindsets are the same. The way we think about who we are and what we do can affect outcomes and what we achieve. It definitely influences the willingness to try new things and develop skills.
Sometimes we fall into a fixed mindset, which is when we get stuck and think that things can't change or we can't get better at something. Many children have a baseline of seeing things in black and white and have negative messaging that they may have received or developed over the years. They get stuck and have a hard time learning from their mistakes and taking feedback from others.
With intentionality, we can help our children bust out of this way of thinking and nurture a growth mindset, which is the belief that we can grow and learn when we put in hard work and effort. A growth mindset helps us see mistakes as opportunities and help us learn and develop new skills.
Below is a chart that outlines some of the core differences between the two mindsets:
While we want to help our children have a growth mindset, we often struggle with how to do that. The good news is, building a growth mindset is like going to the gym and exercising your muscles. It takes work, but these ‘brain workouts’ can make your child stronger and help them achieve their goals.
One of the best ways to do this is to start with yourself and model this type of thinking and being in the world. Working on your own growth mindset alongside your kids can show them what this looks like and help them not be afraid to try new things. Start by tracking your thought patterns. Are they encouraging and curious when it comes to learning and trying new things? If so, make sure to make those thoughts overt so that your child can hear them. If you catch yourself avoiding new challenges and getting stuck with self-doubt, the first step is noticing these thoughts and then working on combating this inflexibility. Taking care of our own self-talk and mindset makes it easier for our children to feel comfortable with the possibilities a growth mindset gives them.
To directly support your child's ability to tackle new things, research shows that it's important to refrain from praising them for the outcome or end result and instead focus on the effort and hard work they are put forward. When we praise our children for the outcome, such as a grade of a test, it can create a sense of hyper focus on the finish line or accomplishment vs. the work it took to get there. This can cause some children to stay in their comfort zone and not want to continue trying harder things or other challenges because they have already achieved their peak. They fear making mistakes or taking risks because they fear failure.
However, when our focus is directed toward the process or effort, our children learn how to build confidence in their decision making, problem solving, and risk taking.
When offering feedback, be specific and focus on your child’s individual willingness to take risks and learn new things. You may also choose to give observational encouragement such as “I see you cleaning your room, that must feel good to find your toys” or “I see you made a lot of progress on the puzzle today.” Lastly, it's important to have age and developmentally appropriate expectations for your child, compared to themselves, not others.
For more ideas, we collaborated with Generation Mindful to provide an additional blog post for 6 Tools to Nurture a Growth Mindset.
Together we are following my theme based 12 month Make It Simple, Make It Stick calendar with daily activities that you can use in your home. This month, we’re focused on growth mindset, just in time for back to school where we want to encourage the love for learning all kind of new, cool things!
Check out how you can sprinkle in daily activities to help your child develop the important skills related to building a growth mindset such as being flexible, seeing multiple options, problem solving and shining a light on their strengths!