Your mindset is your or attitude or particular way of thinking that determines how you will interpret and respond to situations. We used to think that our intelligence was fixed – meaning we were either smart or we weren’t. Scientists have proven again and again that simply is not true. Our brain acts like a muscle – the more we use it, the stronger (and smarter) our brain becomes. This is known as the growth mindset. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. is a great read that helps you make positive changes in your life and at the same time see the world in a new way. It explains how we become optimistic or pessimistic. It shapes our goals, our attitude toward work and relationships, and how we raise our kids, ultimately predicting whether or not we will fulfill our potential.
How can we as parents, educators teach the growth mindset? A person with a growth mindset may do these things:
Give their best effort.
Learn from feedback.
Become inspired by other people’s successes.
Believe their intelligence can change if they work hard.
How you can help your child?
1. TALK ABOUT IT-Talk with your child about their day- guide the discussion by asking questions like: Did you make a mistake today? What did you learn? What did you do that was difficult today?
2. PRAISE THE PROCESS– Instead of saying, “You’re so smart!” praise effort, goal setting, persisting through challenges, or being creative. You can say something like: “Wow! You must have worked really hard on this!”
3. THE BRAIN CAN GROW-remind your child that their intelligence is not fixed. Remind them that when things are difficult, their brain grows if they persist through the challenge. Each time they learn something new, their brain is making new connections. Your child needs to know this is possible!
4. HELP THEM CHANGE THEIR DIALOGUE -The way your child talks to themselves makes a huge impact on their mindset. If they say, “This is too hard!” help them change that to “I can’t do this yet, but I will keep trying.” Give them the words to say when they are feeling defeated by modeling it yourself!
5. ENCOURAGE FAILURE– Your child needs to know that failure can (and often does) happen and it is okay! Remind them that each time they fail and try again, their brain is growing stronger! Don’t step in to prevent your child’s failure – this is how they learn to persevere in the face of challenges.