Yes, absolutely! But this takes time and effort – and they need the adults around them to help with this!
In general there are two types of mindsets: growth and fixed.
What is a fixed mindset?
A fixed mindset is a belief that intelligence cannot be changed – those with a fixed mindset might say things such as ‘I’m not smart enough’, ‘I’m not very good at maths so I can’t complete that number sentence.’ These children are quicker to give up on a task and think they’re not clever enough if they can’t do something. Those with a fixed mindset can often be reluctant to attempt new activities because they are afraid of looking dumb; they might avoid tasks they risk failing.
What is a growth mindset?
A growth mindset believes that abilities can be developed and changed. If they put the work in and try hard then they will achieve their goal. These children tend to be more resilient and confident.
How can you, as a parent / carer promote a growth mindset?
- Praise effort, not the outcome!
It sounds simple, but it is very powerful. If we praise children for being ‘clever’, ‘smart’ or ‘intelligent’ this can promote a fixed mindset. Instead praise their effort and determination. Encourage them to embrace challenges – this will make their brain work hard and grow.
- Teach them that mistakes are ok!
Talk to your child about mistakes you have made – and grown from – and this is good! Taking risks and making mistakes helps our brain to grow stronger. If an activity is difficult, it is so important to keep trying – only then will it feel easier!
- Think about the language you use
Using phrases such as ‘well done, you tried really hard on that’ is so much more important than saying, ‘well done, you got the answers correct!’
- Mistakes help you learn
- This might take you some time
- You will learn how to do this
- Keep trying
- I love how hard you are trying
- Great effort
- When things are hard, you must keep trying
- The keyword is YET!
If the child says, ‘I can’t do it,’ – always add the word ‘yet’. Help them to understand that they might not be able to do it yet but the more they try, the harder they work, this will become easier for them.
- It’s ok to fail!
Even with effort and determination sometimes the child still might not be able to reach their goal – and that’s ok! Emphasise how much effort they put in, ‘I noticed how hard you tried, let’s try a different way to help you next time.’ Encourage this experience to inspire and motivate them next time. Ensure they know that it’s ok to fail at times – it will encourage them to experiment and take risks – risks help us to grow!
Remember that we can always grow our intelligence and abilities but this takes time, effort and hard work. Our children need the adults around them to develop a growth mindset – it will help to prepare them for life.