Growth Mindset for Kids
Developing a positive, growth mindset early in life is essential for happiness and success. Using growth mindset activities for kids to help support resiliency, flexibility and confidence will help set them up for success in the future.
What is a growth mindset?
A growth mindset is the belief that we develop skills and knowledge through effort, persistence and practice. The concept was developed by author Carol Dweck who wrote the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.
A fixed mindset is the belief that skills and intelligence can not be changed or improved.
When you have a fixed mindset you may think “I don’t know how to do that, so I can’t do it.” A growth mindset teaches us to do hard things and grow through failure.
Viewing failure as a learning opportunity and an opportunity for growth will help children push through difficult challenges. Having a passion for learning new things and confronting hard situations are all characteristics that will lead to happiness.
As a mom, I’m more concerned with raising my children to be confident, self-assured, flexible and resilient, than I am with them understanding math or history (though those are important too). Teaching social emotional skills will help them be successful with whatever they choose to do as adults and these skills will help them work through those difficult math problems and history lessons.
But how do you teach a growth mindset to a child who is struggling with confidence, flexibility and mindset challenges?
How do you teach a growth mindset to a child?
Having a growth mindset is a lifelong journey, so don’t be discouraged if your child is struggling. We are always developing and learning – as adults, even the most positive individuals sometimes struggle with mindset challenges. The good news is that it’s a lot easier to learn a growth mindset when you’re young, than it is to change it when you’re an adult.
Having the right tools to help you develop determination, perseverance, flexibility and a can-do attitude will help you raise some amazing, successful kids!
What are 5 ways you can develop a growth mindset?
Praise efforts, rather than talents
Telling your child they are really good at reading could actually help develop a fixed mindset because it’s basically saying it’s something your child has. Telling your child they worked really hard to learn their skills acknowledges the effort they made to develop the skills and improve. So rather than telling your child they are a good reader, you could tell them they worked really hard using the strategies they’ve learned to figure out the difficult words.
It’s so important for kids to understand that set-backs actually help us move forward. Encourage your child to speak up, ask for help and advocate for themselves when something isn’t working. And when they do speak up make sure you’re supporting their growth mindset by acknowledging their efforts.
Avoid saying you’re not good at something
It’s easy for us to say things like “don’t worry about it” or “maybe art isn’t your thing.” This promotes a fixed mindset. It’s more helpful to ask questions like “what could you do differently next time?” or “would it help to talk to someone?” This encourages growth and perseverance through difficult things.
Model a growth mindset
Share your struggles with your kids. Are you feeling nervous about a new job? Talk to your kids about it. Are you struggling to learn a new skill? Tell your kids why you’re frustrated. When we tell our kids about our mistakes, failures and feelings, and then show them how we learn from these experiences, we are modeling a growth mindset.
Add the word YET
When your children tell you they can’t do something add this important word – YET.
“I can’t ride a bike YET.”
“I’m not a good writer YET”
“I can’t read YET.”
Growth mindset games
Here are a few simple growth mindset games you can play with your children.
Negative to positive
Practice turning a negative mindset into a positive one. Write down a list of negative or limiting beliefs such as “I’m not good at…” or “I can’t do…” Next, practice turning the negative statements into positive ones.
Fixed Mindset: “I’m not good at riding my bike.”
Growth Mindset: “I can’t ride my bike yet, but with practice I’ll get better.”
Ask your children to search the internet (or do this with them) for famous people who have overcome challenges and adversity to become successful.
Check out this post from Huffington Post to get you started- 21 Famous Failures Who Refused to Give Up
Growth Mindset Activities
In addition to games you can include these activities as part of your daily or weekly routines.
Affirmations are one of my favorite ways to promote a growth mindset. Affirmations are words you say over and over again until they penetrate your subconscious mind. Affirmations for children can reduce anxiety, encourage creative thinking, inspire a growth mindset, improve their well-being and boost self-esteem.
For more tips on using affirmations as part of your daily routine check out our post – Positive Affirmations for Kids
Growth Mindset Yoga
Incorporate words of affirmation with your favorite yoga poses. This is a great way to work on concentration while moving your bodies. Pick out some of your favorite yoga moves and attach an affirmation to it.
Tree pose – I can do hard things
Frog pose – I am flexible
Downward dog – I can about other
Check out these yoga cards for inspiration.
I love teaching kids about goal setting from an early age. Setting and achieving goals teaches our children about success. When we don’t achieve our goals we learn about failure and a growth mindset teaches us to work through these failures and keep trying.
Take a lined journal and each day have your child answer these questions. You could also do this on a weekly basis if daily is too much.
What did I accomplish today?
How do I feel about it?
If your kids feel like they didn’t accomplish anything that day you could ask them what would you do differently tomorrow?
Growth mindset resources
Sesame Street do Growth Mindset – YouTube
Sesame Street Power of Yet – YouTube
Movies that promote a growth mindset
The Good Dinosaur
The Wizard of Oz
A Wrinkle in Time