August 12, 2022

What Does it Mean to Have a Growth Mindset in Children?

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An individual’s growth mindset is their attitude towards challenges and obstacles in their life. An individual with a growth mindset believes that with hard work and determination, they can overcome any obstacle and achieve any goal, whereas an individual with a fixed mindset believes that their circumstances and abilities limit them and that there’s nothing they can do to improve upon them.

A child with a growth mindset will tend to be more self-assured and eager to tackle new challenges than one with a more fixed mindset. By following the learning process of how to recognize the signs of both types of mindsets in your children, you can help nurture the former while diminishing the latter.


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What is a growth mindset Why is it important?

According to psychologist Carol Dweck, Mindset is how we approach and deal with new learning and experiences.

If you have a fixed mindset, you see abilities as static traits that can’t be changed, while if you have a growth mindset, you believe that abilities can be developed over time.

The trick is to adopt a growth mindset while still having enough self-confidence or self-esteem to avoid getting too discouraged by failures along the way.

Why This Matters?

The difference between having a growth vs. fixed mindset has been linked to success at school, sports, and even later careers.

People who believe their intelligence is malleable tend to work harder and succeed more than those who believe their intelligence is set in stone.


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Defining a Growth Mindset For Children

Every parent wants their child to succeed. However, what many parents don’t realize is that success lies not only in skill and talent but also in attitude. In fact, having an I can do anything if I set my mind to it mentality makes all of the difference between good students and great students.

So what does it exactly mean to have a growth mindset for children? Let’s break down exactly what a growth mindset for kids is and how you can help your child develop one too. – Understand what a growth mindset means: If there were one word we could use to describe mindsets, it would be growth.

When people think about mindsets, they often think about either fixed or growth. A fixed mindset suggests you believe certain things are impossible no matter how hard you try and that some skills cannot be learned – they come natural (or not).

Growth mindset definition:

A growth mindset believes that every skill comes with practice, effort, and time.

What is a fixed mindset?

Carol Dweck’s research shows that people with a fixed mindset believe intelligence is something you are born with.

Once people believe they are smart or not so smart, they won’t spend time trying to improve themselves because they don’t think they can be anything else.

In contrast, people with growth mindsets understand that any individual can achieve success if she works hard and develops her knowledge and skills. Brains and talent are just the starting point for these children.


cheerful kid playing with building blocks

Fixed Versus Growth Mindset Meaning

What’s different about these two mindsets? First, if you haven’t heard of them before, they describe how we view our most basic abilities and basic qualities.

Fixed and Growth Mindsets

Children with a fixed mindset are born with certain inherent traits that cannot be changed—i.e., intelligence is something we either do or don’t have, and nothing can be done about it. Furthermore, this way of thinking discourages learning since any failure to achieve only reinforces our low self-esteem.

On the other hand, an individual with a growth mindset views their skills as something that can be developed through effort, good habits, and environment.

People with a growth mindset love challenges and see mistakes as opportunities for improvement rather than evidence of incompetence. Growth mindset intervention might help you combat some of your limitations, but it won’t do everything.


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How do you know if your child has a fixed or a growth mindset?

Having a fixed mindset can make it difficult for your child to achieve their goals. Children with a fixed mindset might feel like they’re not talented, intelligent, attractive, or good enough and that their abilities are limited. Achieving big and small goals takes courage, determination, and resilience. It also takes a belief that you can do it.

You’ll help your child develop these skills and become successful at school and beyond by encouraging a growth mindset.

There is an important distinction between fixed and growth mindsets in psychology: fixed mindsets and growth mindsets. Those with fixed mindsets believe that talent matters most—that innate intelligence or ability determines success. People with a growth mindset believe that anyone can improve their skills through dedication and hard work.

4 Key Ingredients to a Growth Mindset in Children-

How to have a growth mindset

1. Be Careful about Words –

One study found that people who used fixed, rigid, and unchanging words when talking about intelligence or ability ended up with lower test scores than their peers who used phrases like growing, evolving, and changing. Unfortunately, children can be exposed to these same messages by parents or teachers making statements like You’re so smart! or You got an A on your last math test, you must be really good at it.


Boy holding up a rainbow pop socket toy

2. Reinforce Effort Rather Than Ability –

Research has shown that praising children for things like being smart makes them feel less motivated to learn new skills. Instead, make praise specific: highlight effort (I see how hard you worked!) or good strategies they tried out (You figured out such a great strategy!).

3. Encourage Mistakes as Learning Opportunities –

It may sound counterintuitive, but it turns out embracing mistakes leads kids to try harder because they believe they are capable of learning from them. Emphasize how what went wrong today can help tomorrow.

4. Model Growth Mindset Habits Yourself –

If your child sees her parent practicing a growth mindset, she is more likely to develop one herself. When you express interest in trying something challenging – whether it’s taking dance lessons or working out together — remember that success is not contingent upon innate abilities but rather learning something new over time.

So how do parents begin creating a growth mindset in their children?

  • By watching their own language and actively incorporating four key ingredients into our day-to-day interactions with them.
  • Through open-ended conversations and helpful explanations, demonstrate a belief in their potential to grow intellectually;
  • Through recognition of effort and strategies rather than only outcomes, encourage them to learn from mistakes;
  • Through displays of resilience when challenges come up, show them that perseverance pays off;
  • Through exposure to the actions within new situations ourselves, we demonstrate that there are many ways to approach challenges in life.

How do you instill this trait in your child?

Let your child know that having a growth mindset means you are always willing to try something new. Be open-minded and allow yourself and your child to learn from every experience, good or bad.

By focusing on his strengths rather than his weaknesses, he will feel empowered to tackle challenges and grow as an individual.

Also, praise his accomplishments instead of just rewarding him for getting good grades or winning games. Acknowledge that effort and passion are equally important factors when pursuing success!


Ballet instructor holding ballerina's foot for balance

How can schools and parents help your child have a growth mindset?

For example, if your child brings home an assignment with low marks, instead of berating them for their mistake, praise them for having tried and encourage them to try again.

When mistakes are met with positivity and encouragement rather than punishment, you’re telling your child that they can learn from their mistakes and grow.

This allows them to embrace a more positive attitude towards learning and fosters confidence in difficult situations, making a growth mindset all but inevitable.

Another way to get started is to explain what you mean by a growth mindset and make it a household term; talk about how others succeed through failure, support each other when someone falls down and celebrate every little victory!

It may seem obvious but remember: doing something is always better than doing nothing. Take small steps so your child has plenty of opportunities to practice developing a growth mindset.


Mom and daughter reading popup books

How can having this trait change the world?

Most people fall into one of two categories: those with a fixed mindset and those with a growth mindset.

People with fixed mindsets believe that abilities are innate traits. Therefore, anything you can do as an adult is probably something you could do as a child. The problem is that these people see failure or lack of talent as a reason for not trying.

On the other hand, people with growth mindsets believe that abilities can be developed through effort and practice. These people understand that developing new skills takes time and they’re willing to dedicate their lives to overcoming challenges. This single idea is perhaps more powerful than any other out there when it comes to changing our culture’s approach toward learning.

If we give kids—and adults—the belief that intelligence isn’t something you’re born with but rather something you cultivate through hard work, then we give people permission to challenge themselves at whatever level makes sense for them.

Plus, it opens up so many opportunities for lifelong learners who didn’t get much exposure growing up. Imagine how much better off society would be if even just half of all teachers adopted a growth mindset approach to teaching!


Kids in a room full of confetti

How do I teach my child to have a growth mindset?

One of, if not THE most important skills to possess in life is being able to learn from your mistakes. In fact, people with a growth mindset know that they will make plenty of mistakes along their journey, but having a growth mindset means that they aren’t afraid of failure and instead see it as an opportunity for improvement and personal development.

How can you help your children develop their own growth mindsets? Here are 2 simple ways that you can instill these great habits in them!

Growth Mindset Tip #1:

Praise Effort Over Outcome It may seem counterintuitive to praise effort over the outcome when working with a child (as many of us tend to emphasize success). However, what we don’t realize is that doing so does much more than just fostering an intrinsic love for learning and problem-solving.

Growth Mindset Tip #2:

Inspire Your Child’s Passion Let your kids create things on their own using non-prepackaged items! By encouraging creativity in whatever way possible, you’re helping inspire their passions and subsequently promoting a growth mindset. This also introduces another valuable concept into your children’s lives: collaboration.

Many parents strive to give their children every advantage in life by sending them to expensive private schools or getting them involved in specialized extracurricular activities like karate classes or art workshops. These are all wonderful things, but sometimes we overlook one of our greatest resources–our children themselves.

An incredible human capacity lies within each one of us–we are capable of creating magic when we collaborate with others. And even at a young age, kids get that!

So why not take time to ask them about their passions and then try to utilize those resources to get them interested in certain activities outside of school?

It doesn’t need to be anything fancy…just setting up playdates where kids can work on projects together is enough!


Happy child playing with a blanket outdoors

Try pairing up your son with his little brother who always seems interested in building Legos…or asking your daughter if she’d like company when she tries out her new soccer moves.


Children with a growth mindset believe that their abilities can be cultivated through perseverance, training, and hard work. These kids are able to take on challenges because they believe mistakes will lead them to greater achievements.

In contrast, kids with fixed mindsets think intelligence is innate and can’t be improved upon no matter how much one studies or practices. When things don’t go as planned, these students see failure as an indication of their lack of ability or intelligence. They may also avoid challenges altogether, believing they aren’t cut out for higher levels of academic achievement or sporting competitions.

Although some people favor one type of thinking over another from a young age, mentalities can change over time and awareness about both types of thinking can help adults recognize faulty thought patterns — which ultimately leads to better outcomes for kids.

Even if your child isn’t facing serious academic issues now, parents should try to instill a growth mindset at home whenever possible—starting from birth!

By fostering a positive attitude toward learning and reinforcing effort rather than skills themselves, you can minimize feelings of helplessness that come with setbacks.

It’s All About Effort: The key component to cultivating a growth mindset is emphasizing effort instead of talent or inherent ability.

Kids need to know that practice makes perfect and that there are concrete steps they can take toward improving their performance — like being open-minded about feedback, doing homework regularly, asking questions when confused, and taking practice tests before trying big exams.

Taryn Crimi

Taryn Crimi

Taryn is an international intuitive, focused on helping to empower you manifest your best life!

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