9 Top Tips to Cultivate a Growth Mindset in Your Child

Do you want your child to develop a strong, smart brain? Then read on..

It’s sometimes too easy to find a way out by telling ourselves:

·       I can’t do this…

·       I’m not clever enough…

·       It’s just too much effort…

·       It’s impossible for my dreams to come true…

However, I firmly believe a growth mindset can help your child use more positive self-talk to help them learn better and thus achieve their personal and academic goals.

What's a Growth Mindset?   

Carol Dweck, an American Psychologist coined the terms ‘Growth Mindset and Fixed Mindset’.

People with a fixed mindset tend to believe that our talents and intelligence level are fixed and therefore can’t be altered.

Whereas people with a growth mindset believe that intelligence is fluid and therefore through effort and self-determination we can grow our smartness. 

The Geeky Neuroscience bit…

Neuroscientific research reveals how our brain has the capacity to make new connections and re-wire itself based on our experiences. This area of science is sometimes known as neuroplasticity.

So, when we find something difficult our brain also struggles, this is shown when neurons join up with each other to make new connections, making our brain smarter and stronger.


Can a Teacher’s Mindset affect your Child’s Mindset?

Dr. Dweck & Mueller studied a group of Year 5 students to measure the impact of teacher feedback on learning behaviour and performance. Their findings included:

·       Students who were praised for their intelligence and effort preferred to continue working on easier tasks.

·       Students who were praised for their effort alone went on to seek more challenging tasks.

·       Learning goals were a motivating factor for the effort-praised group.

·       The intelligence-praised students avoided challenge, preferring to learn with guaranteed success.

·       This group were also concerned with performance that would make them look smart.

Dr Dweck & Mueller’s study shows us that teachers who frequently tell students they are smart only encourages children to have a fixed mindset.

Feedback focusing on effort and hard work encourages a more open mindset, where students feel more motivated to seek out challenging experiences. Leading to greater learning and more achievements.

9 Top Tips to inspire a Growth Mindset:

1.) Teach your child how their brain works

Your child will find it fascinating to learn interesting facts about how their brain actually works when they learn. The Khan Academy has some super videos that explain the science of how our brain grows when we learn.

BBC Bitesize has a good selection of growth mindset videos for kids which are worth checking out.

2.)  Normalise mistakes

Normalising mistakes is probably the most valuable thing you can do to help your child cultivate a growth mindset.

·        Let your child know when you make mistakes, don’t try to hide them. Instead, let them see how it’s normal to make a mistake. The                     important bit is that we can learn from them which in turn can help us grow and improve.

·        Encourage a ‘have a go’ learning atmosphere, free of expectation (hard to do but ideal).

·        Acknowledge but don’t dwell on mistakes your child makes with their work by accepting the negative feelings that can sometimes arise             from  making a mistake.

·        Keep it positive by asking your child what they could do differently next time to improve.

3.)  Model positive self-talk

What we tell ourselves affects our self-image and behaviour. Modelling positive talk with phrases, such as, ‘Next time I’ll… to make it even better’, ‘I can learn how to…’, ‘Have I done my best here?’

4.)  Ask positive questions

These questions can help shape a positive self-image and increase your child’s self-determination.

·        What are you most proud of today?

·        What makes you curious?

·        What’s one thing you’ve got better at this week?

·        What have you learned from friends’ mistakes?

·        What good thing have you learned from making a mistake?

·        What’s one area which needs some more effort?

5.)  Share inspirational stories

‘First think. Second, dream. Third, believe. And finally, dare’ -Walt Disney.

Although hard to believe, Walt Disney was famously rejected many times and told he lacked imagination and creativity. Persistence, self-belief and determination enabled him to prove his critics wrong and succeed.  

Who Was Walt Disney? By Whitney Steward is a super book for adults and kids about Walt Disney’s journey to success.

6.)  Be emotionally available 

Letting your child know you are emotionally available for them is crucial. Simply being there for them will give your child the emotional security they need to express themselves freely.

7.)  Watch films together that promote perseverance

Films such as The Lion King are also a great way for children to learn about the path to success in fun way! The Disney film ‘Inside Out’ (2015) is an inspiring film that encourages children how to process and articulate their own feelings.

8.)  Introduce new experiences

Giving your child opportunities for new experiences will help increase their self-belief and confidence. Meeting and socialising with a range of different people will be fun and may even open up their minds to new possibilities.

9.)  Be aware of misconceptions

Life is messy and complex, so whilst effort and persistence are valuable, they are not guaranteed to lead to success.

·        Being curious and unafraid to ask uncomfortable questions when things aren’t going to plan can be so beneficial for your understanding          and  your child’s long-term growth.  

·        Critics of Carol Dweck’s Mindset Theory argue that it’s too simplistic to say we have either a growth or a fixed mindset. Instead, they                 argue that it’s more useful to think of mindset as a continuum and it’s human to exhibit features of both mindset types.

Finally, here are 5 ways a Creative Writing Tutor can inspire a  growth mindset in your child:

  •       Building a safe and trusting relationship with your child.
  •       Creating a positive ‘have a go…’ learning atmosphere.
  •       Praising effort and hard work rather than focusing purely on outcome.
  •       Making learning fun and enjoyable.
  •       Acknowledging and encouraging your child’s unique storytelling voice.

More on this topic coming soon...

Posted on June 7th 2022

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