Growth mindset — what is it, and how do you teach it to your children?

If you want your children to enjoy learning and to achieve the things they’ve set their hearts on, it’s vital to cultivate a growth mindset in them. Children who understand their brains can grow and develop are far more likely to be happy and successful. But how can you get this through to them?

What is growth mindset?

All the beliefs we have about our abilities and limitations form our mindset, and this determines how much we achieve. We can have a fixed mindset, which tells us that we are what we are and can’t change, or a growth mindset, which tells us we can make our abilities and intelligence grow and develop.

On the whole, most of us are taught to have a fixed mindset. This can be changed in adults and, even more importantly, in children, by various strategies.

1. Teach your children about their brains

You might think the way the brain works is too complex for young children to understand, but they can grasp a surprising amount if it’s expressed in the right way. Most young children, for instance, are completely comfortable with modern technology, so if you talk about new learning rewiring or upgrading their brains, they’re likely to get that.

Examples are vital to allow them to see how the two mindsets work. There are plenty of books that allow young children to see the difference in the characters, and of course your example is crucial. Saying “I haven’t learnt this yet” instead of “I can’t do this”, for instance, will set your children a good example and be a benefit to you at the same time.

2. Show your children the importance of effort

It’s vital your children understand that success can’t be expected overnight. Just like adults, they must learn from their mistakes, so it’s important to help them understand you make mistakes, too. Talk to them about times you got something wrong, and how you’re stronger for it.

You can foster a growth mindset if you praise your children for what they work on, rather than what they are. For instance, instead of telling them “You’re so clever,” tell them “You worked really hard on that.” And, crucially, set them the example of saying “I can’t do that yet” rather than just “I can’t do that.”

3. Help your children think of themselves in the right way

You probably know the danger of giving your children negative labels, but actually even positive labels are bad for children. Labelling a child “clever”, for instance, risks making them think they don’t have to try, just as much as labelling them “stupid” risks making them think there’s no point in trying.

Both in how you talk about your children and in how they think about themselves, focus on the growth potential. Instead of your child thinking, “I don’t understand this,” encourage them to think “I’m missing something — what is it?” And even “I’m great at this” is better as “I’ve learnt this.”

Help your children achieve more with growth mindset

Teaching your children growth mindset can be the most empowering thing you can do for their achievement and success. Understanding what they’re doing while they’re learning can help them feel more confidence among their peers, helping them to greater happiness and fulfilment. You’re very welcome to get in touch with us if you want to know more about growth mindset.