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Growth mindset for kids: If you want to find out what having growth mindset really means and why it is so important for raising happy and resilient kids, you’ll find here a handful of ideas to inspire you! Also, I’ve gathered a list of awesome resources that will help you encourage your kids to develop a growth mindset.
Some time ago I wrote about the things that helped me encourage my son not to give up easily when things seem hard and I mentioned how helpful it was to read more about what the growth mindset and its impact on kids.
That was just the beginning for me! In the last months, I read more about what a growth mindset means and it was a game changer for both my son and me.
I never realized that many of the limiting beliefs that I have are caused by a fixed mindset. And that I’m able to change this!
Most importantly, I never realized how much the right mindset matters in life! This is why I want to help my son develop a growth mindset from these early years.
I’m convinced that it will help him a lot as he grows and I hope that it will be the foundation that will help him fulfill his dreams.
I am so happy about all the interesting ideas that I’ve discovered lately that I decided to share some of them here. Because I’m pretty sure that they can help other parents too!
What is a growth mindset?
The concept of “growth mindset” was developed by the Stanford professor Carol Dweck.
People with a growth mindset believe that they can continually improve their abilities and that their intelligence and success can be improved through practice and effort.
They see mistakes as opportunities to learn and not as failures. They have a positive thinking and are perseverant even when faced with difficult challenges. When things get hard, they don’t give up easily and are determined to try harder and succeed.
I’m sure that every parent would want this for their kids. And the good news is that we can help our children develop this mindset!
Dr. Carol Dweck has studied mindset in kids for years. She noticed that children with a fixed mindset believe that they can either be smart or dumb and that they are either good or bad at specific activities. They are convinced that talent determines if someone will succeed and that they cannot influence this.
On the other hand, children with a growth mindset believe that they can build the abilities that they want to have. They are determined to work hard for what they want and are not easily defeated by failures or setbacks.
It’s important to mention that a growth mindset is something that we build in time. So each of us (both kids and adults) will have moments when will deal with a fixed mindset. But the challenge is to overcome this and learn to apply the growth mindset principles in as many of the aspects of our life.
Growth mindset for kids: 5 ways to develop the right mindset
As parents, we can help kids in many ways to develop a growth mindset. But one of the most effective ways to do this is by being a good role model.
Kids learn more from what we do than what we say. And this applies to their mindset too! So the first step in teaching kids about growth mindset is to start applying it in our own lives.
Next, here are some practical ways to help kids develop a growth mindset from an early age.
1. Read books that promote a growth mindset
Stories have a big impact on kids and are able to teach them important lessons. Reading children books that promote a growth mindset is a great way to start talking with the kids about this topic.
Here are some of our favorite books:
Your Fantastic Elastic Brain: Stretch It, Shape It – a great book for teaching kids about how their brain works and how they can improve their abilities
Beautiful Oops! – a lovely book about mistakes that offers a precious lesson for kids
The Little Engine That Could – a wonderful book about motivation and the power of positive thinking
What Do You Do With an Idea? – an award-winning book about big ideas and self-confidence.
You can find a complete list of awesome books that promote a growth mindset for kids here.
photo credit: Monkey Business Images / shutterstock.com
2. Focus on the most important principles of a growth mindset and teach them to your kids
There are some important lessons that we can teach our kids from an early age and that can make a difference in their life. They will help children handle challenges better and accomplish more things!
Here are some of the lessons that I try to teach my son:
– It’s okay to make mistakes. They are not failures, they are just opportunities to learn and do better next time.
– The fact that you can’t do something right now doesn’t mean that you will never be able to do it. You just need to put more effort into it and not give up. (I wrote more about this topic here.)
– When you feel that you can’t do something, remember that you can’t do it yet. If you have enough patience and perseverance, you will learn to do it!
– Results are important but progress is even more important. Instead of feeling bad about not getting the results that you want, focus on acknowledging the progress that you’ve made. And keep trying!
Helping kids understand these things when they are young will make things easier when they will need to face challenges in school or in other aspects of their life.
3. Put these principles into practice in a playful way
Kids learn best through play so I wanted to find some nice activities focused on growth mindset to try with my son.
Luckily, I discovered an awesome site that is full of resources for teaching kids about the growth mindset. They have a lot of great free resources but I also purchased their printable products because I love their ideas!
Here are some lovely ideas that you can try with your kids:
– the Growth Mindset Printables Kits (my favorite resource for teaching kids about growth mindset – it includes many worksheets, activities, posters and coloring pages that helped me a lot)
photo credit: biglifejournal.com
– 5-Day Growth Mindset Challenge for Children (a free challenge that is a great start for teaching kids about growth mindset)
– 25 Growth Mindset Statements and Affirmations (a wonderful list to print and read to your kids)
photo credit: biglifejournal.com
– 5-Day Self-Love Challenge for Children (another free challenge that is great for boosting children’s self-esteem)
– the Challenges Kit (a collection of 34 pages of printable worksheets to boost kids’ emotional intelligence)
– My Mindfulness Bingo (plus some fun activity ideas).
photo credit: biglifejournal.com
You can find a complete list of awesome resources that promote a growth mindset here.
4. Praise the effort and not the result
There are several pieces of research that show that praising and rewarding children’s results does more harm than good. It can affect their internal motivation and also make them more afraid of challenges and mistakes.
Focusing on the effort instead of the result is far more beneficial!
Phrases like “I see that you are trying hard”, “It took you a lot of patience to do that”, or “I like that you are so focused and determined to learn this” have a positive impact on kids. They will teach them that their effort matters and motivate them to learn new things.
“What we’ve found in study after study is that ability-praise backfires. Emphasising effort gives a child a variable that they can control. They come to see themselves as in control of their success. Emphasising natural intelligence takes it out of the child’s control, and it provides no good recipe for responding to a failure.” (Carol Dweck)
photo credit: Africa Studio / shutterstock.com
5. Plan regular discussions to encourage kids and boost their confidence
These discussions are perfect opportunities to connect with the child, listen to their thoughts and concerns, and help them develop a growth mindset.
Here are some things that you can include in these conversations:
– Tell stories from your own childhood when you faced challenges and overcome them.
– Tell stories about mistakes that you made and what you learned from them.
– Invite the child to tell you about the challenges or struggles that they face. Help them come up with a strategy to cope with these challenges.
– Ask the child about the progress that they made in learning new things.
– Tell your child about moments when you noticed that they are trying hard to do something new. Praise their effort and let them know that you’re proud of their progress.
– Talk about a mistake that the child did and what they learned from it.
– Discuss a situation when the child has overcome a challenge. Ask them how this felt.
– Make a list of things that your child would like to learn. Then follow up on the progress and celebrate the progress.
– If you noticed some negative self-talk in your child, discuss how they feel and help them find positive ways to rephrase their thoughts.
There are many other ways to approach this, depending on your particular situation.
But the most important is to make time to just sit down with your child and talk about these topics.
The printable files that I’ve mentioned above can be a great help in starting the conversations and make them more meaningful and helpful.
These conversations help kids develop more self-esteem and boost their confidence! Also, they strengthen the parent-child relationship and lay the foundation for more trust and support.
I hope that you enjoyed these ideas and that they will help you encourage your child to develop a growth mindset!
For more inspiration, check out this big list of resources about growth mindset. You’ll find there many awesome books, printable worksheets, posters, and movies to enjoy with your kids.
If you have any other ideas and recommendations I would be happy to find them out! I’m fascinated with this topic and I’m looking forward to discovering more ideas!
>> Want to remember this? Share these tips to your favorite Pinterest board!
photo credit preview photo: Yuganov Konstantin / shutterstock.com
originally published in April 2018 – updated in August 2019