8 Ways to Help Your Child Develop a Growth Mindset

Teaching kids they can and learn anything is a way of encouraging a growth mindset in kids.

We all want our kids to grow up to be happy and successful. One way parents can help kids get there is by encouraging a growth mindset, or the belief that success is based on hard work, continuous learning, practice, and training.

Growth Mindset Versus Fixed Mindset 

Researchers have identified two kinds of mindsets, growth and fixed. When people have a fixed mindset, they believe intelligence and ability are something someone is born with innately. They tend to have a limited view of what they can and cannot do, and are less willing to try new things for fear of failing. 

People who’ve cultivated a growth mindset tend to be more willing to try and put forth more effort, believing that their performance can always be improved. They don’t fear failure because they view it as an opportunity to learn and grow. Having a growth mindset has been strongly linked to greater happiness and achievement in life. 

Kids with growth-mindset mentalities are more persistent and better equipped to face life’s challenges. They are better problem solvers and more motivated. What parent doesn’t want to see that kind of attitude in her child?

You can help your kid develop a growth mindset. In fact, parents, teachers, and coaches probably have the greatest impact of any adult on kids’ mindsets. Here are eight ways to encourage your child to develop a growth mindset.

8 Ways to Help Encourage Your Child’s Growth Mindset

    1. Teach your kiddo about the brain’s ability to grow and change. We now know that the brain continues to grow and develop throughout our lifetimes. When we try new things and challenge ourselves to learn, our brains develop new connections. These connections get stronger and our brains get denser with continued effort. Parents report that this info about the brain’s growth tends to delight and engage kids who love to learn about their growing brains.
    2. Praise effort, not ability. When we tell our kids they are smart, talented, or gifted, we are actually imposing a fixed mindset on them by reinforcing the idea that this is who they are. Praising effort – through specific statements like “you worked hard on that” or “I know you studied a lot for that test” – helps instill a growth mindset and gets kids believing that their basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work.
    3. Encourage mistakes. Kids learn a lot by doing, but they might not try if they’re worried about being less than perfect. Tell your kids that it’s ok to make mistakes, and even let them in on some of the mistakes you’ve made.

      Growth mindset through mistakes
      Making mistakes while doing anything, including practicing the piano, is how kids and adults alike learn.
    4. Avoid labeling your child. Any label we give our kids – whether it’s smart, pretty, shy, outgoing, etc. – can foster a limited belief within themselves. Try to avoid pigeonholing them in this way.
    5. Teach them to add the word “yet.” Sure, your four-year-old can’t ride without training wheels now, but don’t let him get stuck in that thought – remind him that he can’t ride a two wheeler yet. If he puts in the work, cruising on two wheels (and anything else he puts his mind to) can be accomplished, if just not yet.
    6. Show your own growth mindset. Kids learn by watching us, so embrace your own growth mindset, mama! Talk out challenges you’re facing and how you’ll accomplish them.
    7. Encourage positive self talk. We all need an inner cheerleader if we’re going to keep growing and changing. Help your child to identify when negative attitudes are holding him back from trying and achieving his goals. Replacing negative thoughts like “I can’t do it” with positive ones like “I’m going to give this my best try” is essential to be in a growth mindset state of being.
    8. Point out when they’re showing a growth mindset. When you notice your child displaying growth mindset attitudes and behaviors, heap on the accolades! You can tie their growth mindset approach to specific results if applicable. For example, if your little replaced a negative “I’ll never be able to do it” with a positive “I just don’t know how to do that yet,” and then she conquered the task in question, now’s the time to shout out the role that her growth mindset played in her success. 

How do you encourage a growth mindset in your kiddos?