Nurturing a Growth Mindset in Youth
A love of learning and resilience is essential for great accomplishment.
Growth mindset is the integration of learning into one’s life, focusing on the journey and not the destination.
In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point.
People with a growth mindset tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset (those who believe their talents are innate gifts). This is because they worry less about looking smart and they put more energy into learning.
Stanford University researcher and author of Mindset: the New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck points out “…our studies show that teaching people to have a growth mindset, which encourages a focus on effort rather than on intelligence or talent, makes them into high achievers in school and life”
6 ways you can help develop growth mindset in yourself and your kids
1. Let Go of Fear
Most of us wrestle with fear in some aspect of our life where we believe we’re not good enough or we have something to prove. We feel judged and incapable when we fail. By teaching children(and ourselves) to love challenges and to be intrigued by mistakes and learning from failure. This creates enjoyment of the effort and a willingness to keep on learning.
2. Praise the Effort not the Outcome
It’s pretty typical to praise an accomplishment but inadvertently this makes children vulnerable. When we instead praise the hard work, strategies and focus being applies children learn resilience. Do praise what they accomplished through practice, study, persistence, strategic thinking.
In his book Trombone Player Wanted, Marcus Buckingham, one of the lead researchers in the Strengths Finder Assessment by Gallup, notes reality is we won’t get an A in everything. But by focusing instead on our strengths we will continue to grow them.
When we need the approval of other people (like through getting A grades) we give up our personal power and instead live life according to the expectations of others.
3. Drop the Judgement
Instead, offer constructive feedback through the process of inquiry. Assist kids in self evaluation by asking what they learned, what they could do differently, how much do they want it and are they willing to do their best consistently over time. This gives kids the opportunity to own their experience and an opportunity to apply what they’ve learned to their own life.
4. Stop Comparing to Others
Just like fingerprints, by recognizing every kid, every person is different, we can come to realize that what we want isn’t necessarily what they want. Learning from this perspective is an inside out process where you can encourage them to bring forth their unique gifts and talents.
Get curious about who your kids are rather than what or how they should be by giving them the space to express themselves and pursue their own interests.
If we view our children as “growing” and bringing forth their unique gifts and talents from the inside out and if we observe their learning process, noticing how much they want it and their willingness to do their best consistently over time – we honour their diversity.
5. Stop viewing yourself as separate
Consider that we are all learners on a life-long journey of learning and unfolding our natural and innate intelligence. By natural intelligence I’m referring to the inner genus we possess that unravels as we grow.
That natural intelligence is easy to see in an acorn that has the innate genius to become an oak tree or that of a caterpillar to become a butterfly. Like the caterpillar we each possess an intelligence that has nothing to do with SAT scores but rather an awareness and capabilities that unfold naturally.
6. Let go of perfectionism
Perfectionism or feeling that we have to be great at something creates self judgement and fear. When life is looked as as a discovery process we can embrace play. It’s almost as if we need to go through the process of de-schooling ourselves and the idea that we have to get ready to get ready to get ready. Play without judgement is where some of the biggest breakthroughs happen. You don’t need to be confident of the outcome ahead of time but instead adopt a desire to jump into the adventure and enjoy the journey