Inside: Resources for parents who want to nurture a growth mindset in their children.
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Years ago, when my girls were little, I read Carol Dweck’s book “Mindset: The New Psychology for Success” and immediately knew I wanted to adopt her ideas into my parenting.
Dweck coined the term “growth mindset,” which she defines as the mindset of people who believe “that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work — brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.”
The opposite of a growth mindset is a “fixed mindset,” with which “people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits,” Dweck writes. “They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success — without effort.”
Throughout her research, Dweck found that people with a growth mindset tend to achieve and accomplish more. More importantly, they feel better about themselves. On the other hand, people with a fixed mindset — regardless of their IQ — tend to not take risks, and therefore have trouble achieving success in life.
All of this information is well and good. But as a parent, I want to know: what practical steps can I take?
Since reading Dweck’s book I’ve asked this question of myself a few times and discovered a number of resources – coaching tips, books to share with children, and other tools – parents can use to help cultivate a growth mindset in their children.
Encouraging kids to have a growth mindset is best accomplished over time and with careful attention from parents, teachers, and coaches. And while the resources below can never take the place of that nurturing, they can supplement it, and be used to reinforce the message that intelligence isn’t entirely innate, rather can be developed through resilience, hard work, and dedication.
Before reviewing resources, it helps to have a firm understanding of the term “growth mindset.” This, of course, is best accomplished by reading the book that explains in depth Dweck’s research and findings of what makes a growth mindset so powerful.
For those without the time to read the book, videos and articles are also available to help parents better understand Dweck’s research. In the video below, Dweck talks about the “power of yet” and gives a general overview of her work, the importance of having a growth mindset, and what parents can do to develop a growth mindset in their children.
Want more? Here are some additional videos and an article that provide a basic understanding of growth mindset:
Growth Mindset Introduction: What it is and How it Works: as the title suggests, this is a good high-level introduction to understanding a growth mindset.
Mindsets: Fixed vs, Growth: this video provides a quick and easy overview of the differences between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.
How to Help Every Child Fulfill Their Potential – Carol Dweck: this video describes how different mindsets (fixed and growth) work and how they can be changed.
Growth Mindset: Clearing Up Some Common Confusions: this article clears up some of the confusions about what a growth mindset is and what it isn’t.
What are some practical strategies parents can use to encourage a growth mindset in their children?
To begin with, parents can openly discuss challenging work with their children. Dweck calls this “normalizing struggle.” The following video features a teacher who encourages her students to persist through challenges. She accomplishes this by assigning challenging work and normalizing the struggle of getting the correct answer.
The following videos also provide practical tips for parents about how to develop a growth mindset in kids:
How to Develop a Growth Mindset in Kids: if you already understand growth mindset, skip to 2:50 in this video where a list of practical tips for parents is shared. Tips in include: be a good role model, openly fail in front of your kids and praise the process, not the result.
Three Ways to a Growth Mindset: this quick video talks about the importance of recognizing our own mindsets, praising the process, and showing kids how to learn from failure.
Children’s Books That Promote a Growth Mindset
Parents can also reinforce a growth mindset in their children through stories. When children hear tales of other kids who persisted through a challenge, it sends the message that they are capable of the same thing.
Click here or on the image below to view a list of 14 Children’s Books that Promote a Growth Mindset:
Other Resources to Promote a Growth Mindset
The value of a growth mindset can also be reinforced through journals, posters, and printables.
Growth Mindset Affirmation Cards for Kids
These cards can encourage a growth mindset in you kids no matter wherever they are. While the affirmations on these cards can’t take the place of real interactions with adults, they can serve to reinforce the growth mindset message kids are already hearing from adults at home or school.
These cards can be:
- A reference during the school day when placed on a ring in your child’s backpack
- Reminders at home when taped to a mirror or tacked to a bulletin board so kids see them each time they pass by
- An interactive family exercise when kids or parents can pick two or three cards from a bowl and read them out loud as a daily reminder.
Growth Mindset Journal
This growth mindset journal – filled with stories, poems, quotes, illustrations, and writing prompts – is meant help children recognize their ability to learn, embrace challenges, persevere and discover how they can grow from mistakes and failures.
Stories in the book include the failures and successes of Elon Musk, J.K. Rowling, Walt Disney, and others.
The journal is broken down into 26 weeks with each week covering a new theme or topic. You can read more about both editions of the Big Life Journal here: Big Life Journal, for ages 7-10 and Big Life Journal Teen Edition, for ages 11+.
Growth Mindset Posters
Fill your child’s room with positive messages with this poster. Click on the image below to purchase a PDF.
Growth mindset printables
Kids can also learn more about growth mindset and themselves through these printables: