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Teaching a Growth Mindset in Kids: A Guide for Parents and Educators Introduction

Updated: Dec 13, 2023

How to Encourage A Growth Mindset in Your Child:

Growth Mindset for Kids

Fostering a growth mindset in kids is a crucial aspect of their development. Unlike the traditional thought that intelligence and abilities are innate, a growth mindset works off the belief that talents and intelligence can be developed through dedication and hard work. In one of our previous podcast episodes, "Talent Do We Have It All Wrong!" we discuss the need to rethink the ideas of talent. The research has shown that talents and even intelligence cannot be predicted at an early age. Not only do we need to instill a growth mindset in the youth that we work with, but we also need to be open to the idea that youth do grow, adapt and change.

So how do we do it? How do we help our youth embrace a growth mindset, here are a couple key points!

Growth Mindset Definition:

A growth mindset is the understanding that our success is linked to our effort and the time that we put in to developing our skills and knowledge base. It takes out the perception of talent, or that any indiviudal is capable or not capable of doing something based on inherent traits.

10 Ways to Develop A Growth Mindset for Kids:

1. Encourage Effort Over Outcome:

Teach children that effort creates mastery. In Dan Coyle's book Talent Code, he found that specific, intentional practice that reinforces doing things right increases skill up to 10 times faster. True focused effort should be praised, hard work and perseverance should be encouraged and praised, and rather than solely focusing on the end achievements, set process goals. Youth will understand that success is a result of continuous effort and improvement.

2. Embrace Challenges:

I've long held the statement with my athletes, "Do Hard Things." It is easy to do the easy things right, but I also tell my athletes, "If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you!" We need to create an environment where challenges are viewed as opportunities to learn, not as threats. Encourage youth to take on new tasks that may seem difficult at first, and through this we can instill resilience and a willingness to face challenges head-on.

3. Mistakes are Learning Opportunities:

The other thing I instill in my athletes is the idea that, " A mistake is only a problem if you don't learn and change from it." We need to cultivate a culture where mistakes, and i'm going to skip the part about the modern theory of not seeing mistakes as failures, because it instills the idea that the problem doesn't need to change, but we do need to see mistakes as valuable experiences for growth. We must discuss the importance of learning from errors stressing the need to improve. This helps youth become more resilient in the face of setbacks. Resilience or what some may call grit is at the center of generating a growth mindset for kids.

4. Teach the Power of "Yet":

We have outlawed the use of the word can't on our team, we call it the worst of all cuss words. We have our athletes reframe statements. When they say, "I can't do this," we rephrase to a statement such as, "I am unable to do that yet" or "I didn't hit it today, but after some more hard work I will." These statements emphasize that it's a matter of time and effort. This simple rephrase encourages a forward-looking perspective, reinforcing the idea that kids can improve with time.

5. Model a Growth Mindset:

fostering a growth mindset

Children learn by example, so it's essential for parents and educators to exhibit a growth mindset themselves. Share stories about your own challenges and how you overcame them through perseverance and learning. This demonstrates that growth is a lifelong journey and will encourage a growth mindset in your kids.

6. Provide Constructive Feedback:

When offering feedback, focus on specific actions and efforts rather than general praise or criticism. Highlight what they did well and suggest areas for improvement. This approach helps youth understand that feedback is a tool for growth, and not personal. It is also important to read your child and athlete and determine the right time and place to give feedback and the manner in which you do.

7. Encourage Curiosity and Exploration:

Foster a sense of wonder and curiosity. Support their interests and encourage them to explore new topics. Curious minds are more likely to embrace challenges and see learning as an exciting journey.

8. Set Realistic Goals:

Help children set achievable short-term goals and progress goals. Progress goals are often times missed, I challenge our athletes to think through what needs to happen to get to theri goals. Challenging them to set goals for each part of practice. Doing this allows for a sense of accomplishment on a regular bases and teaches the value of setting objectives and working towards them. Small victories contribute to building confidence and a positive mindset.

9. Promote a Love for Learning:

Make learning enjoyable and emphasize the joy of discovering new things. Whether through games, experiments, or creative activities, create an environment where learning is a continuous process that brings joy and satisfaction. If you are interested in learning how to teach and foster creativity check out our post: Teaching Creativity at Home and In the Classroom.

10. Encourage Peer Collaboration:

Foster a collaborative mindset by promoting teamwork and cooperation. Working with peers helps children see diverse perspectives, share knowledge, and learn from each other. Create opportunities for them to create the rules of a game played during practice and deal with disagreements. Peer collaboration is an excellent growth mindset activity that allows kids to flourish and improve their mindset to a greater degree when an entire team is working toward achievement and improvement. We all can remember groups and teams which are bad and good. Even being involved in a negative team experience is a learning opportunity. When a team environment is negative, lack of motivation and will to succeed struggle. When a team is positive and embracing a growth mindset it is easy to work hard to accomplish the goal together as a group

When we actively foster a growth mindset in our youth, we equip them with the tools to navigate challenges, embrace learning, and build resilience. It is critical that we look for growth mindset activities in our day to day teaching and conversations with youth.This impact spans an entire youth's developmental years, and molds their attitudes towards lifelong learning and success. As parents and educators, our role is pivotal in nurturing growth mindsets, ensuring a foundation for a future generation of confident, adaptable, and resilient individuals and athletes.

Carol Dweck's book Mindset The New Psychology of Success combines decades of research about how students and everyday individual's perception of talent impacts desired outcomes and success. It is a phenomenal read for teachers, parents, and even employers looking to grow their teams.

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