Importance of a Growth Mindset in Children

It’s that time of the year again. School is now in full session and families are beginning to establish their routines surrounding a working schedule and the full class load for the kiddos.

This part of the year can be intimidating for children because it means a whole new year of new experiences, friends and learning. It can also make parents and guardians feel a bit nervous as well.

For me this nervousness or anxiousness that comes with a new school year arises because I constantly have to ask myself, “How can I better serve my students and set them up for success in their learning?”. I’m sure many others think about the same or a similar question. When you examine the way children learn you must remember that what is important isn’t only the content of each lesson, but the way it is taught and the mindset that they employ while doing so.

The topic I’m going to focus on is the importance of having, teaching, and living with a growth mindset in order to benefit your child’s ability to grow as personally and mentally. I was recently introduced to this concept of a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset at a training for work. In this training we were introduced to the work of Carol Dweck Ph.D., the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, who is best known for her research regarding the growth mindset.

The idea is simple, there are two types of mindsets that students usually lean towards within their education. As mentioned above, the two are either a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. When someone has a fixed mindset this means that they believe intelligence is something that you can’t change, it’s static. Basically, you’re either born smart or you’re not and there’s not much you can do about it. On the other end we have growth mindset. If someone has a growth mindset they see intelligence as something that you can grow if you actively work towards improving through your effort.

Individuals begin to develop these mindsets at a very young age and therefore it is crucial to constantly work to instill a growth mindset in children. People with growth mindsets tend to embrace challenges, learn from criticism, and see effort as a way that leads to success. People who showcase a growth mindset also tend to outperform their fixed mindset counterparts.

You don’t need to be an expert to actively promote this way of thinking in your children. For example, praise and acknowledge their effort and the path that they took to accomplish something. It might be hard to put into practice but you want to make sure that you don’t overemphasize the final product. If your child received a high mark on an assignment you can let them know that you’re aware of how much effort they put into every part of it and that through their hard work they were able to achieve their good grade. Another way to promote this is through the language that you use. When you give a child praise be aware that you should avoid focusing on traits or things that are generally considered stable. You wouldn’t tell your child that they are talented and that’s why they achieved what they did. Instead, you focus on celebrating their efforts because they are the reason they were able to accomplish whatever they did. This allows a child to understand that intelligence and learning aren’t things that are set in stone.

The goal is for children to be able to make the connection between the effort that you put into doing things directly affecting the outcome that they’ll achieve. Another great way to promote this is to model it yourself. Lead by example and be conscious of your own self-talk. Children are extremely observant and will pick up on how you approach learning and completing tasks. Change has to start somewhere, and we should always be working to promote children’s healthy learning and healthy minds. What steps do you think you can start taking in order to introduce a growth mindset into your life?

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Optional tags: #backtoschool #growthmindset #fixedmindset #caroldweck

About Jazmin Vazquez

Jazmin Vazquez is a San Diego native, currently residing in New York. She is a Sociology graduate from the University of California, San Diego. She currently works in the educational nonprofit industry with middle school age children. In her spare time she enjoys pursuing her passions for writing, social media and marketing.