Inside: Practical tips and 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 is the author who 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 with success and life.
All of this information is well and good. But as a parent, I want to know: what practical steps can I take to encourage a growth mindset in my girls?
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 fully innate, rather can be developed through resilience, hard work, and dedication.
Before introducing the resources, it’s best to make sure you have a firm understanding of the term “growth mindset.” This, of course, is best accomplished by reading the book that coined the phrase and explains in depth Dweck’s research and findings about what makes a growth mindset so powerful.
For those without the time to read the whole 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 kids.
Want more? Here are some additional videos and an article that provide a good basic understanding and 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 the 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: 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.
Encourage a Growth Mindset in Your Kids
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 normalize the struggle of getting the correct answer.
The following videos also provide practical tips for parents about how to raise kids with a growth mindset:
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 in pursuing a dream or challenge, it sends the message that they too are capable of the same thing.
Click here or on the image below to view a list of 14 Childrens 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 Journal
This growth mindset journal — filled with stories, poems, quotes, illustrations, and writing prompts — aims to help children recognize their ability to learn, embrace challenges, persevere through challenges and how to grow from mistakes and failures.
Stories included 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. Learn more about the journal here.
Growth Mindset Posters
Fill your child’s room with positive messages with these posters. Click on each image to purchase a PDF of each poster.
Growth mindset printables
Kids can also learn more about growth mindset and themselves through these printables:
Other printables include: