By now, almost every educator and many parents are familiar with the ideas of growth mindset and grit. Thanks to Carol Dweck and Angela Duckworth, we’re making a point to address why some kids (and adults) face challenges and persevere, while others shy away and are set back. Unfortunately, like many hot concepts, real world application is easier said than done. Last year, Dweck released a revised copy of her book – Mindset: The New Psychology of Success – to address false growth mindset. Rather than do a deep dive into what does – and doesn’t – qualify, let’s discuss some real steps you can take right now to get your child started on the path of growth mindset success.
Help your child do a self-assessment. We all have strengths and weaknesses, and we tend to favor thinking about and doing things we’re good at. Focusing on the positive is normal, and in many ways, healthy. What sets us back is avoiding challenges because of a fear of failure. Performing this type of self-assessment has two major components: assessing strengths and weaknesses is one. The other is figuring out where you currently fall on the spectrum of fixed to growth mindset. Our action items are identifying where we need to make more effort and, more importantly, determining the best tactics. Effort alone isn’t enough, because it can be misguided and ineffective. The truth is, no one has a growth mindset 100% of the time – ultimately, the goal is to make sure you don’t allow fixed mindset moments to waylay progress.
Make progress a daily mantra. This is where many of us get confused about growth mindset goals. In the conversation, you’ll often hear people referencing praising the efforts, not a child’s innate ability or an outcome. In reality, growth is directly tied to progress. If your efforts are not moving you forward, it’s time to rethink your strategy. Now, it’s absolutely critical that progress is benchmarked against an individual’s prior performance. Life, for the most part, is not a competition. Flexible and creative thinking are an essential part of moving away from a fixed mindset. If your child is not making progress despite a sincere effort, it’s time to sit down and figure out a new approach.
Forget about perfection. “Practice makes perfect” is a phrase that’s motivated generations of us to persevere – at tasks and talents we already had interest in pursuing. Another perfectly cliché saying? “Nobody’s perfect!” Being too focused on the concept of perfection can create a profound feeling of failure for even the simplest mistakes. It’s important to remind children that every single one of us makes mistakes. Growth comes from how we work through errors, and how we apply the lessons learned to future endeavors.
What are your thoughts on growth mindset? Have you faced any challenges in implementing it in your home or classroom? I would love to read your thoughts and tips in the comments below.