“I can’t do this homework. I don’t understand maths.”
“I can’t do this homework yet. I don’t understand how to make sense of this math problem.”
Do either of these statements sound like something your child would say? Which one? How your child takes on challenges isn’t just about being motivated or resilient . It may be the result of having what’s known as a growth mindset.
This term describes how we face challenges and setbacks. People with a growth mindset believe their abilities can improve over time. On the other hand, people with a fixed mindset think their abilities are set in stone or can’t change, no matter how hard they try.
Having a growth mindset can have real benefits. It helps kids (and their families) reframe how they approach challenges. That’s the power of the word yet in the above complaint about homework. Even though the homework is hard, it shows growth mindset to recognize it may not always be that hard.
Learn more about growth mindset and what it can mean for your child.What is growth mindset?
The concept of growth mindset has been around for a while. It was developed by professor Carol Dweck. Dweck and her colleagues did studies that found that kids who pushed through challenges believed they could improve. Kids who pulled back from challenges believed their abilities couldn’t improve.
Take kids who struggle with writing, for example. They’ve gotten low grades on a bunch of papers. If they’re convinced they’re “just bad at writing,” and that no amount of work will change that, that’s a fixed mindset. They’ll probably stop trying. But if kids say they have trouble with writing but keep working at it, that’s a growth mindset.
Whether or not we have a growth mindset isn’t set in stone, according to Dweck. It’s a myth that either you have it or you don’t. In fact, we all have a mix of fixed and growth mindsets that change based on our experiences and the feedback we get.
Learn more about developing a growth mindset in your child in the next newsletter!