Getting Kids Started With the “Growth Mindset”
When it comes to pursuing your career skills, hobbies, or taking on other life ventures, it can be easy to fall into a routine way of thinking about yourself. Maybe you have a bad habit of procrastinating, are bad at math, or have trouble with grammar. Whatever the case may be, many aspects of our identity and how we perform are first formed in our younger years.
How can we influence our kids so that they become the best version of themselves and feel confident about their path to success? Many believe the key is through the “growth mindset,” which is the idea that intelligence and other abilities are not fixed parts of ourselves, but can be improved further. It is especially important for kids, whose brains can grow and develop up until their mid-twenties. A recent study showed that students worldwide with the growth mindset achieved higher test scores, had higher motivation and believed in themselves more.
Here are some ways you can encourage your kids to adopt this mindset:
Avoid “Fixed” Labels
Rather than saying to your child, “You’re so smart” or telling them how great they are at spelling, try using praise that recognizes their effort instead of “natural talent.” By remarking how hard they work, or their diligence at trying a new sport, they will feel more attracted to learning and improving. Negative fixed labels will have them feeling like they are a certain way and can’t be changed. Positive fixed labels can serve as praise, but they keep kids from wanting to challenge themselves more.
Emphasize That Skills Take Time
Gently remind your child that no one is born being “good” at something; it takes practice! Also, remember to point out the challenges your child has already overcome and how this can be achieved again with a positive attitude. You can guide them with small steps towards their goal so they avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Remind Your Child That Mistakes Are Normal
Not only are they perfectly normal, but they are essential to know what to do next. Have an open conversation about your child’s frustrations, and even let them know about your own setbacks. The key here is to help them learn from their mistakes instead of expressing disappointment or scolding them.
Help Foster Curiosity
Kids always have a lot of questions for adults, but sometimes, it’s important for them to engage in critical thinking rather than only getting an answer. You can ask them back questions to get them engaged with a problem or topic. Once you’re in a conversation, simply asking questions like, “Why do you think that?” can spur even more curiosity. Your child will feel empowered by being able to think for themselves.
Don’t Compare Your Child To Others
Not only can comparing your child to other kids lower their self-esteem, but it can also give them the mindset that only competition matters in life. It will make them feel the need to either outperform others or simply give up from the stress of competition. It’s vital that children learn for fun and at their own pace so they can feel capable of taking opportunities later in life.
Though kids may need tutoring or extra time on a test, sometimes all that is needed is a change in mindset to help get past these kinds of difficulties. The growth mindset opens up more possibilities for anyone and everyone, from kids and adults, to change how we approach learning.