Getting to Know Growth Mindset

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What is Growth Mindset?

Growth mindset is the belief that one’s intelligence, abilities, and talents are malleable. When someone has a growth mindset, they embrace failure and mistakes as opportunities for learning and discovery. Rather than giving up when the going gets tough, growth mindset enables people to persist through difficulties and focus on making progress. Carol Dweck, a researcher who conducted 40 years of research into growth mindset, published a book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success in 2006 which revealed exciting insights. Dweck’s findings point not only to the idea that ability can be strengthened and developed through persistence and hard work, but also to evidence that everyone has the capacity to change their mindset from a fixed-mindset to a growth-mindset. For more information about the differences between these two mindsets and the benefits of adopting a growth mindset, listen to Carol Dweck’s TED talk called The Power of Believing You Can Improve.

What Does Growth Mindset Look Like in Action?

As amazing as this phenomenon may be, it can feel overwhelming to try to imagine how these concepts might be applied in real life and how best to help children embrace a growth mindset. Here are a few simple ways to implement a growth mindset in your life and in the life of your child:

  • Embrace the power of YET:
    • “You can’t do it yet.”
    • “You don’t know to yet.”
  • Praise your child for:
    • Effort – “Great effort! You must have worked really hard.”
    • Progress – “You really practiced and look how you improved.”
    • Hard work – “Wow, you worked really hard to finish that.”
    • Persistence – “I saw that you stayed at your desk, you kept your concentration, and you kept on working.”
    • New Strategies – “I noticed you tried all kinds of strategies until you finally figured out how to solve the problem.”
    • Learning from mistakes – “Even though you made a mistake, you were able to keep trying and find a way to do it.”
    • Rising to a challenge – “It must feel good to know you can do difficult things.”
  • Ask questions
    • “What did you do today that was hard?”
    • “Did you try any new strategies?”
    • “What mistake did you make that taught you something?”
  • Recognize your own mindset
    • Think about the messages your words and actions send

Great Growth Mindset Books to Read Together

The following list of books present various growth mindset themes. Share some of these wonderful picture books with your child to open up the conversation about growth mindset. Books offer a safe space for children to explore important concepts and act as a jumping off point to pursue deeper discussion.

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