What's mindset got to do with it?
Have you heard of Growth Mindset? What does it have to do with learning? Why should parents care about mindset?
Growth Mindset has EVERYTHING to do with learning!
The original boss lady of Growth Mindset, Carol Dweck, spent decades researching what made people successful in life. Above intelligence, came mindset.
There are two types of mindset - and most probably (like everything) they occur along a continuum. You may be anywhere between two ends depending on the task at hand, your mood, or if your basic needs are being met.
Fixed Mindset is the this idea that our talents, intelligence and abilities are 'fixed' or determined at birth and they are immovable. That no amount of hard work, effort, or practice can improve these areas.
On the other hand, a Growth Mindset is the belief that our intelligence and abilities have the ability to grow, progress and improve with effortful hard work.
Dweck's research has shown that people who possess a Growth Mindset are more successful than those with a Fixed mindset. We can have a Growth Mindset about our physical, social, emotional, behavioural and cognitive abilities.
So what can parents do to foster a Growth Mindset in their children?
1. Practice what you preach!
If you find yourself struggling with a task in front of your children, be aware of how you talk to yourself. Avoid saying things like "I'm so dumb" and try replacing it with phrases like "I can't do this, yet, I may need someone to help show me how to do it." Children pick up on everything we do and say, so modelling a Growth Mindset in your life is a great place to start.
2. Coach your kids through struggles.
I know, I know this is a hard one. Especially when we are in a rush, want to do it for them and move on with the next thing. But, taking the time to act as a coach or guide can help your children see that they are capable of progress with a little bit of effort, hard work and practice. Will this happen in a day? No way! The next time your child is struggling with a task, whether it be doing up a zipper or reading a word, try coaching them through it. This may also be referred to as scaffolding where we help children master skills by gradually removing our support. First you may show them how to do it, next you have them do it with some help from you and finally they do it on their own.
3. Use language to promote Growth Mindset.
Similar to the first point of modelling a Growth Mindset for our children, adults should also be cognizant of the language we use with children and the message it sends. When we give feedback to children that is unspecific and focuses on inborn abilities, it can be difficult to overcome obstacles when they arise. For example, if your child is struggling and you respond by telling them to 'try harder', you're implying they are not doing their very best. Give them more specific feedback to help guide/coach them in their progress. On a similar note, congratulating children on being SMART, is so natural, but also not productive when it comes to keeping a Growth Mindset. Next time, try saying "You did such a good job of figuring that out!" They may seem like simple changes in the language you use, but it can have a major impact on how children view themselves and challenges they face.
Check out more prompts for responding kiddos, below. While these may seem 'formal' try adapting one sentence to fit your style to replace something you find yourself saying often.