3 Ways to Build a Growth Mindset at Home
It was everything I could do to hold back my tears. There I was, 30-something years old and taking beginner tap dance. My classmates glided across the floor, but I couldn’t seem to master a basic dance step. “Maybe tap just isn’t for me,” I thought.
Have you had similar thoughts? Can you replace “tap dance” with math, history, or reading? Have you heard this from your child?
Many of us believe that intelligence or proficiency is fixed. “Well, she’s just good at math.” or “He’s a gifted a writer. I could never be that good.” However, science tells us that is just NOT TRUE. Intelligence is not fixed. Your brain can grow and create new neural connections throughout your entire life. Think of your brain like a muscle – the more you use it the stronger it becomes.
What a positive and empowering message that sends to our kids! It turns out that knowing you can “make yourself smarter” leads to improved outcomes, especially for at-risk kids. Researcher Dr. Carol Dweck has found that “[w]hen students believe they can get smarter, they understand that effort makes them stronger.
Therefore they put in extra time and effort, and that leads to higher achievement.” Just knowing you can improve leads to more effort and ACTUAL improvement.
You can encourage a growth mindset in your own kids at home. While it takes some changes to your own behavior, it’s so worth it!
3 Ways to Grow a Growth Mindset at Home
Change how you speak to your kids
Praise the process, not their intelligence or giftedness. The focus becomes on the effort, not the outcome. Kids who are praised for hard work, are more likely to work hard and take risks in the future. If kids are praised for their intelligence they are less likely to take risks; if they fail it must be because they are “dumb.”
Instead of saying, “You are so smart!”, say “You worked so hard on that!” Instead of “Maybe math just isn’t your thing” (Please, please, please never say that!) try “I think it’s time we try some new strategies.” Find more examples and explanations at Mindset Parenting.
Model growth mindset language and encourage your children to use it as well. At my last school, we always added the word “yet” to kids’ negative statements about themselves. “I don’t know this stuff.” “You mean you don’t know it . . . yet!” While the kids groaned, they understood our point and they kept working.
Here are some great suggestions from Fieldcrest Elementary School :
Wait, what? Yes, embrace failure. Talk about failure with your kids. How did mistakes lead to new lessons learned? When you make mistakes, respond in a positive manner and treat them as a learning opportunity.
Be positive, not negative about your child’s mistakes. What strategies is your child using? Are they working? If not, find new strategies. (For example, if flashcards don’t help, stop using them.) Discuss with your child what he or she can do differently next time.
A growth mindset doesn’t grow overnight. It will take repeated practice on your part, but instilling a growth mindset is an incredible gift for your child (and yourself.)
How do you encourage a growth mindset? Let me know how it goes in the comments below!
“Decades of Scientific Research That Started a Growth Mindset Revolution.” The Growth Mindset – What Is Growth Mindset – Mindset Works. Mindset Works, 2015. Web. 01 Feb. 2017.”Growth Mindset for Parents Course.” Mindset Kit. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Feb. 2017.
“How Parents Can Instill a Growth Mindset at Home.” Growth Mindset Parenting. Mindset Works, 2015. Web. 01 Feb. 2017. Skelton, Stephanie. “Growth Mindset – Talk It.” Growth Mindset – Talk It. N.p., Jan. 2014. Web. 02 Feb. 2017