Growth Mindset: Setting our Children Free to Thrive

An experience with my daughter recently opened my eyes to the pressure children can feel to succeed, a feeling which I know all too well as an adult. It can be both a driving force and an extra stress in life. 

Whilst having lunch with friends, my daughter was drawing with her friend. I noticed my daughter see her picture and stop in awe. Her friend had drawn a whole person, using all the colours, covering every inch of the page. As her friend showed the adults around the table they all exclaimed their ‘oohs and ahhs’ at the effort she had made! 

I watched as my daughter looked from her own picture to her friends and back. She turned to me and in a sad voice asked, “Can I have more paper?” It was written plainly on her face that she had begun comparing her picture with her friend’s. At 2 years old she was just mastering the art of arms and legs but had come to the conclusion that hers wasn’t as good because it didn’t look the same.

I realised that my response to my daughter was so important in that moment. 

Growth Mindsets vs. Fixed Mindsets

When I praise my child’s achievements, it’s so important to praise the effort she puts into their work, rather than its success. 

When I just praise the success, it sends the message to her that her accomplishments are trait-based like she was born with that ability, but leaves no room for growth. When challenges increase she may feel like she cannot learn from her mistakes, rise to the challenge or improve. This is a ‘fixed mindset’.

On the other hand, praising her for doing her best promotes a growth mindset. It sends a message that the child’s effort is what led them to success and when challenges come, they know they can learn from their mistakes in order to improve. This is a ‘Growth Mindset’

“Your brain is like a muscle. When you learn, your brain grows. The feeling of it being hard is the feeling of your brain growing!”

It taught me that the key to supporting our children to have a growth mindset is in my praise. I should be praising: effort, progress, hard work, rising to a challenge and learning from mistakes.

Instead of praising: talent, being smart or not making mistakes.

Growth Mindset at Citywise

In our Citywise Curriculum, part of our growth in self-knowledge is learning about having a Growth Mindset. ‘Class Dojo’ have some helpful videos featuring Mojo who learns all about how to have a growth mindset. Maybe you could watch them too? Your Brain is a Muscle, The Magic of Mistakes, The Power of ‘Yet’