Types of Mindsets: Instill Growth Mindset in your Children

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There is no limit to what our bodies can do, especially our minds.  Because of this, there are many types of mindsets.

According to ourworldindata.org, “…average IQ scores have been increasing in all countries since the turn of the twentieth century (the earliest point in time for which data is available). The change in IQ scores has been approximately three IQ points per decade.” 

But what is the true measure of intelligence?  Could our intelligence be growing faster?  Is intelligence affected by nature or nurture?  What do we expect of our children and their intelligence?  How will we get them to achieve these intelligence expectations?

In this article, I will explore two types of mindsets, Fixed and Growth.

Why Am I writing About Types of Mindsets?

My children are both very different from one another. My older child is very outgoing and social but lacks confidence when it comes to school, grades, and sports.  My younger child is the opposite.  My youngest is very confident in school and sports but lacks the skills to be social and make new friends.

This year in school, my youngest’s teacher has been sending home information about Growth Mindset and how she instills a Growth Mindset in her classroom.

I have seen a huge difference in my younger child already this year.  He seems to be more confident in making friends, he is slower to anger when things don’t go his way, and he seems less anxious about going to school.

For these reasons, I decided that I wanted to find out a little bit more about Growth Mindset and possibly how I could start implementing it at home and help both children overcome some of their obstacles.

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Where did Growth Mindet Begin?

The term Growth Mindset was established by Dr. Carol Dweck 30 years ago.

She saw that various children responded differently to challenges and setbacks, and wanted to understand what made some of the children successful in overcoming these challenges and setbacks, while other children would revert to fear, anxiety and sometimes even depression.

What is a Growth Mindset?

In order to understand a Growth Mindset, you must first understand a Fixed Mindset.

Fixed Mindset:

People who believe that you are either smart or you aren’t smart, have a Fixed Mindset.  I am sure you have all thought to yourself or heard someone else say,  “math just isn’t your thing”, or “some people are just born with it”, or  “they must have natural talent”.

People who have a Fixed Mindset are more inclined to see situations as black and white.  If you don’t get good grades, then you are stupid.  If you do get good grades, then you are smart.  If you can’t hit a baseball, then you are bad at baseball.  If you can hit a baseball…you get my point.

A Fixed Mindset in a child is the same.  It is when a child believes that there is nothing they can do about how intelligent or talented they are.  Their situation is black and white.  They believe that some kids are born with natural talents and some are not whether it is in class or on the sports field.

Growth Mindset:

A Growth Mindset, however, is different.  People who display a Growth Mindset believe there are many shades of grey area in every situation, and maybe even some color.  A person with a Growth Mindset believes that they can achieve anything through hard work and perseverance.  Therefore, a person with a Growth Mindset will look at a failed end result and then try to find a better way to achieve the result they want by changing the path they take.

For a child with a Growth Mindset, this translates into… if they want an “A” in math, but currently have a “C”, they know that if they work hard and possibly change what they have been doing to get the “C”, then they will eventually get the “A” that they want.  They do not shy away from challenges, and they take their failures in stride and learn from them.

A growth-minded parent or school would approach the examples above of not getting good grades or playing well in a sport, by helping the child to realize that they just needed to work harder and possibly try a different method.  Where the fixed mindset parent and the school would say, “I guess you’re not good at that”.

What Can A Growth Mindset Do For My Children?

Many studies have been done on Growth Mindsets in children, adolescents, and even adults.  But with every study done, there is always a measure of success as well as failure in what one is testing, therefore, make sure you make your own decisions about whether this method might work for your family.

The results that have been published for the Growth Mindset studies are as follows:

1) Reduce Anxiety and Fear

How many of you have an anxious child?  A Growth Mindset can actually help your child with fear and anxiety.  If your child is in a fixed mindset, they may say to themselves, “school is hard and I am not smart enough to handle the classes”.  They may say, “I can’t make a goal in my games, so I am not good at soccer.”

Now put yourself in your child’s shoes for a minute.  Can you imagine how fearful and anxious you would be to walk into a classroom of people who you believe are better than you in what the class is teaching but have no idea how to know the things they know?  To believe that everyone else is smart or talented in the classroom except for you?    Does this help you understand your child’s fear and anxiety about going to school or walking out onto a field a little better?  Nobody wants to fail in front of their peers.

Growth Mindset is about making our children understand that those kids in the classroom were not just born smart or talented, that they had to work for their results.  It is about making your child realize that the brain is a muscle that, if worked out, can grow stronger and stronger and help them achieve any goal they set out to achieve!  With a Growth Mindset, we are teaching our children that if they fail, they just need to change strategies and try again!  That there is nothing they cannot do!  Your child will not fear school or playing a sport as much if they do not fear failure as much!

2) Reduce Aggression and Bullying

WOW!  This could be HUGE!

Knowing some reasons that children bully, could you see how those children could have a fixed mindset?

Maybe they are bullied at home, so they think that is what they are supposed to do at school.  Possibly they don’t make good grades so they think they are not as smart as another child, so they make fun of that smart kid.  Their parents may not have much money for new clothes or belongings, so they bully the kids with the new shoes or jacket to divert attent away from themselves.

A Fixed Mindset again is when a child believes there is no way out of their situation.  These children are stagnant.  They believe they cannot grow as a person, they were born this way.  The anger and frustration created by being forced to live a certain way and accept those terms will pour over into bullying.

Now for the Growth Mindset approach.  If you teach your kids (or they are taught at school) that they can change and they can be anyone they want to be, then what will stop them from choosing to be nice.  By a child realizing that maybe they don’t have to be like a bullying parent at home.  Maybe a child realizes that they can be a smart as the kid they make fun of all the time.  Possibly a child realizes that they could one day make the money to buy the sweater they want.  Doesn’t this level the playing field a little?

If our children understand how to overcome the challenges in life, school, friends, or even bullies, then they will succeed in being able to control themselves when someone is pushing their buttons or making them angry.  They will be able to understand that just because that kid got an “A”, there is no reason they can’t get an “A” too if they change their strategy for success.

3) Reduce Depression

This goes along the same lines as the last two points.  A child that feels they have no way out, that they cannot change themselves, their grades, their friends, their life situation, this is the definition of depression.  Kids that feel this way either are depressed or will become depressed as their life continues on the same road for them.  Their fixed mindset causes them to feel trapped.

A Growth Mindset can give these same children HOPE!  They can be taught that anything in their lives is changeable through hard work and dedication.  Any failures they have can be overcome and can then help them learn and grow.

How Can I Establish a Growth Mindset in My Children?

Here comes the fun part, changing the way we think and do things as parents in order to establish a growth mindset in our children.  As a parent, you may find that you have a fixed mindset yourself and must find a way to create a growth mindset in yourself.

But don’t worry!  Anyone can change from a fixed to a growth mindset.  Here are some ways to get started with your kids and possibly even yourself.

1) Change the way you praise

We all praise our children.  That is what makes them strong a resilient right?  Praise is how they know they are loved and appreciated and they can do no wrong.  But, according to studies, there is a way to praise that will promote a fixed mindset and a different way to praise that will create a growth mindset.

These three concepts came from http://mindsetscholarsnetwork.org. :

A) When you praise, make sure you focus on the strategy and resourcefulness that your child used.

B) Focus on persistence and the fun of succeeding in a challenge.

C) Focus on the process that your child used, not the person (Process Paise, not Person Praise).

I encourage you all to go to the website MindsetWorks.com.  Not only do they have great information about Growth Mindset if you would like to learn more about it, but they also have a fantastic list that will help you understand the right and wrong ways to praise your children if you would like to encourage a Growth Mindset.

Get this great list of “Say This, Not That” to help you create a Growth Mindset in your children through praise at Mindset Works.

2) Don’t Stereotype Your Children

I know you have heard these stereotypes before…Girls are not good at math.  Boys are not good at Literature.  Girls cannot play baseball.  Boys cannot do ballet.

This actually has a name, it is called a Stereotype Threat.

Imagine if all you ever were told is that you are not good at math because you are a girl.  Do you think you could ever be good at math if you were continually told this by people you love, trust and respect?

Don’t stereotype your kids!  Let them find their way and work at being good at everything they set their mind to.

3) Talk about Neuroplasticity – WHAT?!

Back at the beginning of this post, my first line was, “There is no limit to what our bodies can do, especially our brains.”

Neuroplasticity is the reason our brains and bodies are so magnificent.  Neuroplasticity just means your brain is changeable.  Studies have shown that every time we fail and overcome that failure, our brains rewire themselves to be able to do failure again, but easier next time, because we learn from it.  Every time we accept and embrace a new challenge, our brain grows a little more through our perseverance.  When we choose kindness over anger or bullying, our brain creates new folds that create more brain power and more ability to be kind in the future.

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This has been found to be the single most important discussion to have with your kids to create a growth mindset.  The idea that your brain is something that can grow and change.  You are not born with your intelligence, YOU CREATE your intelligence and what is more, it is INFINITE!  I said this earlier, but I think it is worth repeating.  The brain is a muscle that can grow stronger every time we challenge it in a new way.

This is important to explain to your children.  Doing so will help them to realize that they have the to potential to be anything they want to be and as smart as they want to be.

4) Get your School Onboard

Establishing a Growth Mindset should not stop when your child leaves your home.  Make sure that your school is aware of the studies that support this type of learning environment and encourage them to educate their teachers in a way that will benefit not only your own child but also the children they are in school with.  Imagine if this mindset can truly take away anxiety, bullying and the general wall that students see between themselves and who they were meant to be.

I hope we live in a world where one day we will all have a Growth Mindset, but for now, let’s focus on what we can do to help our own families along.

Thank you so much for reading!

P.S.  There are a lot of great sources out there to learn more about Growth Mindset whether it is for yourself or your school.  Here are two great sites to get you started.



P.S.S  Here are some more of my posts you may like!

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