The concept of growth mindset has been gaining momentum in teaching and parenting circles over recent years. Many of Junior Learning’s friends and followers have been asking us: So what is this growth mindset that everyone seems to be talking about? To help unravel the mystery, here’s our breakdown of the concept in simple terms. We hope to help you think about how best to encourage a healthy growth mindset in your own children.

Stanford Professor, psychologist Carol Dweck, Ph. D. first discovered the concept after decades of research into achievement and success. A growth mindset is the belief that we can develop and improve our abilities, including our ability to think. A growth mindset in typical education terms might mean that a child can improve on their spelling, reading, writing and math through hard work and persistence. Therefore their abilities in certain areas are not fixed by their natural intelligence level.  Research shows that children with a growth mindset seek more effective learning strategies, are harder working and persist in the face of setbacks.

Eduardo  Briceño (Co-Founder of Mindset Works, with Carol Dweck), explains how by focusing on fixed abilities instead, would mean that a child sees their hard efforts as a sign of lower intelligence or ability, leading them to feel worse about themselves when they need to try much harder to achieve. Children encouraged to take on a growth mindset, see effort rather than natural intelligence as what makes us smart and successful. Encouraging a growth mindset in children will see them keen to challenge themselves in order to learn new things. Learning something new might involve struggles and making mistakes, so they persist with a more positive outlook.

What can parents and teachers do to encourage a growth mindset in our children? As adults, Eduardo explains how we need to move away from having a fixed mindset ourselves. For example, don’t think of children (and all people) as being smart or not smart, as though their abilities are fixed. Rather than praising a child for being smart, praise specifically for the effort that led the child to their success in something. Being praised all the time for just being smart, may make the child learn that people are either smart or not smart. When things get hard they feel less capable and shy away from challenges, focusing on the easier things they know that they can do in order to gain adult approval and validation.

Remember, you are your child’s role model in learning. We need to work hard to improve and set learning goals in order to demonstrate to our kids that effort is worth it and leads us to improve in certain areas. Talk about the challenges you are facing in your life/work, mistakes you made and the lessons you have learnt.  There are countless learning opportunities in every day life where we can show children we have a growth mindset too. That we aren’t fixed in our ways or scared off by a little challenge!

Article Sources: Author: Eduardo Briceño


growth mindset concept