Core Life Skill: Growth Mindset

What Is It?

A growth mindset is a way of looking at the world which embraces mistakes and failures, seeing them as opportunities to learn something new, rather than being something to be afraid of and avoid. This means it makes people more open to new experiences, to trying new things and to changing things in their lives if there’s something they are not happy with. This may sound a lot like optimism, and the two are undoubtedly related, but it’s something quite different. A growth mindset is not just about having a positive view of life, it’s about creating a way of interacting with the world that promotes persistence, resilience, intrinsic motivation and a love of learning new things, even in the face of adversity.

Why Is It Important?

A growth mindset is one of the main keys to leading a happy and successful life. This is because it encourages you to focus on the fact that it’s within your own power to change anything in your life which is making you unhappy. It also encourages you to put a positive spin on potentially negative events, and seeing mistakes and failures as opportunities to improve yourself rather than as a challenge to your natural abilities or self-worth.

What age should your child start developing it?

A growth mindset is something that you should try to encourage in your child from as young an age as possible. The earlier they can get into a growth mindset, the greater the positive impacts it will have. In particular, if you can help them develop a growth mindset before they start school, they will undoubtedly have a much more positive educational experience. However, it’s never too late to develop a growth mindset, so even if you have an older child (or even a grown-up child who is struggling with life), it’s still worth encouraging them to do so.

How can you encourage your child to develop and enhance this skill?

There are two main ways to encourage your child to develop a growth mindset. The first is to help them understand that effort is the key to success, rather than natural talent, and that mistakes and failures are things that need to be embraced as learning experiences rather than avoided at all costs. The second is to show them a growth mindset in action (as with almost all core life skills, your child will benefit greatly from seeing you use a growth mindset in your everyday life).

Additional Information On Growth Mindsets For Kids

  1. Mindset: This is the classic book by Carol Dweck, one of the leading researchers into the field of mindsets, and the one who has done the most to highlight the benefits of having a growth mindset in everyday life. UK-based readers can find it here, while US-based readers can find it here.
  2. The Most Important Mindset For Long-term Success: This is a nice article from Gregory Ciotti that provides a quick introduction to the concept of a growth mindset and why it’s important to instil in children. You can find this article here.
  3. Growth Mindset Pocketbook: This is a quick and easy to read book crammed with both background information on mindsets and with practical information on how to promote a growth mindset in children. It’s primarily aimed at educators, but parents will undoubtedly benefit from reading it too. You can find out more about this book in our review of it here.
  4. This is a great website devoted to bringing the concepts of growth mindset to both parenting and education. This includes a great article on Growth Mindset Parenting and other information for parents, information about the science behind understanding and developing growth mindsets, as well as information about their programs for schools, teachers and parents which aim to encourage and promote the development of growth mindsets.
  5. website, from Katie Walton, is dedicated to the practical implementation of the work of Carol Dweck with children. This includes her three books I Can’t Do This …The Mindset Melting Pot and A Muddle Of Mistakes, as well as ideas for activities based around these books.

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About The Author: This post was written by Colin Drysdale, the creator of How To Raise A Happy Genius.

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