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Why Is a Growth Mindset Important?

Do you want the best for your child? Do you want them to succeed in life? Of course you do! Most parents want the best for their child, and hope that they find success, passion, and happiness in their lives and careers. However, one thing that many parents do not know, is the effect that mindset plays on the rate of success in their child's life. Did you know that studies have indicated that there is a positive correlation between having a growth mindset and students' academic success. Furthermore, not only does their academic success improve, but so does their individual successes as well. In this article, we will discuss what a growth mindset is and why is a growth mindset important, for both you and your child's success. Let's dive in!

What Is a Growth Mindset?

A classroom full of elementary school children smiling and doing work. A small boy is in the center smiling up at the camera.
Students that have a growth mindset receive academic grades that are on average, 7.3% higher than those with fixed mindsets.

A growth mindset is a flexible mindset. For too long, people believed that intelligence was something innate and unchangeable. You were born the way you were and you had to work with the cards you were handed. Recently, experts have begun to change the narrative surrounding intelligence. Carol Dweck, a Stanford psychologist, is the person who created the idea of a growth mindset.

A growth mindset is the belief that a person's abilities are not innate, and can be improved with effort, learning, and persistence. If you have a growth mindset you believe that with enough time, dedication, and effort you can learn anything. Your intelligence and talents are capable of change with enough effort.

Examples of Growth Mindset

While the definition seems simple enough, it can be hard to put into practice. This is especially true if you have had no practice with a growth mindset before. In fact, the

NIH mentions how habit formation usually takes around 10 weeks of consistent repetition. So, to get you started, here are some examples of what a growth mindset could look like.

A comparison chart of fixed vs. growth mindset with examples of each
A growth mindset is characterized by the belief that you can continuously improve and expand upon your skills and learning.

What Are the Benefits of Having a Growth Mindset?

Besides having a more optimistic outlook on yourself, and life developing and maintaining a growth mindset has many benefits for your child. Some benefits include higher self-esteem, increased problem-solving abilities, and higher academic success. Below, we further discuss some of the most prominent benefits of a growth mindset.

More Likely to Persevere Through Challenges and Setbacks

It is very easy to give up hope when you think things are out of your control. A child with a fixed mindset will believe that their skills and intelligence are inherit and unchangeable. They may not want to try to do new things because they feel there would be no point. However, if they are taught about growth mindset they understand that our brains have neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the ability of our brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections. Meaning, our brains are constantly learning, and growing from our experiences, especially in response to learning.

If you teach your child about this concept then they will be more willing to persevere through challenges and setbacks that are presented to them. They will see the challenge as an opportunity to further hone their skills and to grow. Failure is no longer a daunting aspect, but rather an opportunity for learning. These skills extend beyond challenges in the classroom as well. Studies have shown that children in lower income families that maintained a growth mindset were more successful in overcoming academic challenges due to their situation than those in similar situations with fixed mindsets. Furthermore, it has been linked that children who are struggling with obesity had an easier time losing weight than those who were overweight and maintained a fixed mindset.

This is because having a growth mindset allows students to believe in themselves and understand that they can navigate their own lives. This in turn leads them to seek out opportunities to problem-solve and navigate through difficult situations.

Leads to Higher Academic Success

A female students hand writing on a piece of paper.
In the United States, students with a growth mindset scored an average of 60 points higher on reading tests than those with fixed mindsets.

Studies performed in elementary and secondary schools have shown that having a growth mindset is linked to better academic success. Additionally, it is linked to lower stress levels. Students who have a growth mindset are more inclined to be engaged during lessons. This is because they have the confidence to try new things, and lack the fear of failure. They understand that the best way to learn is to try new things, build new brain synapses and allow patterns to form.

In the United States, students with a growth mindset scored an average of 60 points higher on reading tests than those with fixed mindsets. Part of this is due to the persistence that comes with adopting a growth mindset. Students with this mindset recognize that they are constantly improving and they begin to doubt themselves less. This leads to confidence in the classroom and more engagement, which further allows their brain to learn new information and develop neural pathways that will help lead them to success.

Increased Motivation and Engagement in Learning

As previously stated, having a growth mindset increases the chances that your child will be motivated and enjoy engaging in the learning process. Learning can be daunting when you don't understand it or when you think that no matter how hard you try you will never succeed. Having a growth mindset makes your child realize that the power of their future lies in their own two hands. This encourages them to work harder, to build the outcome that they desire.

By encouraging your child to have a growth mindset, you are showing them that they are capable of change and improvement. This realization makes them want to work hard to impress you and themselves. To prove that they really can do anything they set their minds to.

Better Equipped to Deal With Academic Stress and Anxiety

A teacher leaning over a students shoulder, helping her with a school problem.
Between the ages of two and eight years old, children are forming their opinions about themselves and their abilities.

Children with a growth mindset have more resilience. Failures are no longer monumental, permanent situations. Rather they are minor setbacks that provide further opportunities for learning. Did you know, that 40% of working adults admit that fear of failure holds them back from making decisions in their lives? That is a lot of missed opportunities. The way you look at opportunities, yourself, and the world around you begins at a very young age.

By age five, children begin to have some semblance of self esteem. Between the ages of two and eight years old, children are forming their opinions about themselves and their abilities. Unless something changes later in life to have them change these viewpoints, those views on themselves and the world around them continue on into their adulthood. Imagine what would have happened if that 40% of adults were taught about growth mindset at an early age?

What if those people were told they could do anything, and that the only time they fail is when they do not try? Imagine your child not living up to their fullest potential, simply because they feared not getting it right on the first time. Assisting your chid in developing this confidence and mindset early on increases their chances of not being in that 40% significantly.

Leads to Increased Self-Esteem and Confidence

Having a growth mindset is literally rewiring our brains for the better. It is telling yourself that anything is possible with enough resilience and effort. It helps students reshape obstacles into challenges and gives them the gift of confidence. Children with this mindset understand that with enough resources and dedication they can change the outcome of any task.

Having this understanding allows them to have a deeper faith in their abilities and to look at the world and themselves in a positive light. Students with this mindset are more likely to think "Yes I can!" when facing challenges. This confidence, that is formed early on will carry with them into adulthood and will allow them to transcend the space of negative thinking and fear frozen patterns that many adults find themselves falling into.

How Can I Help My Child to Have a Growth Mindset?

A father teaching his son how to play chess on an outdoor patio.
You can help foster a growth mindset at home by being mindful of what you say and modeling that mindset yourself.

So now you know why a growth mindset is so important, but how can you help your child develop one? Here are some practical things you can begin implementing today, to help your child develop a growth mindset.

Watch What You Say

What you say can directly impact how your child thinks, for better or for worse. While reading this article, did you notice whether you have a growth or a fixed mindset? Fixed mindsets can hide behind common phrases. For example, see if any of these sound like you:

Fixed Mindset Common Hidden Phrases or Thought Patterns

  • "I am just not a math person."

  • "I can't do that."

  • "Well he/she is smarter than me."

  • Do you take feedback as an attack?

  • Do you often find yourself easily giving up if you don't know something?

If any of these sound like you, you may be battling your own fixed mindset. It can be difficult to help someone else develop a growth mindset if you don't have one yourself. So, build one together. Be very aware of your word choice when speaking to your child. Ensure that you are using positive verbs and words that encourage growth. Some great growth mindset verbs can be found below.

Chart that shows common verbs and phrases to use when teaching a growth mindset
Word choice is very important when teaching a growth mindset.

Celebrate Your Child's Progress

Oftentimes, people are so focused on the destination that they forget to enjoy the journey. Your child's journey will not be fast, and it will not be linear. There will be moments of struggle, and moments of success. It is important to celebrate them all. Celebrating the setbacks helps solidify the belief that failure is not final, and that it simply provides opportunities for learning and growth. Then, celebrating the successes and milestones shows your child that with dedication, effort, and persistence they really can accomplish anything. Being there to support and celebrate them at every stage is crucial to their continued success.

Create Opportunities For Failure

Facing failure can be hard, even for someone with a growth mindset. By creating opportunities for failure, you are allowing your child to experience this important lesson in the safety of their own home. Do they have an idea for something that you know will not work. Try not to "correct" them right away. Instead let them play their idea out. Then when it does not work, talk through why. Have them discuss what they learned and make a new path forward. Additionally, you could create opportunities where your child sees you fail at something. Have them help you identify what went wrong, what you learned, and how you can adjust for next time.

By doing this, you are not only helping them lose the fear of failure but you are allowing them to practice in the privacy and safety of their own home so they can take those skills and experiences and implement it in the outside world.

Be a Good Role Model

A woman sitting on a yoga mat, stretching her arms up with her two small children on either side of her imitating here.
Children will imitate their parents or caregivers, so be sure to model the behaviors that you want your child to adopt.

Like everything else with your child, they want to imitate you. Especially children who are younger. All children want to be like their parents when they are young. Have you ever had a conversation with a 5-year-old?

(adult) "What's your favorite ice cream?"

(child) "Hmmm, chocolate?"

(adult)"Oh lovely, mine is vanilla."

(child)"Oh yea, mine is vanilla too!"

As adorable as it is when children want to mimic your choices, it is also important to recognize how powerful your actions can be. Model growth mindset. Model confidence, success, kindness. Be the kind of person you want your child to grow up to be, because they are always watching, always listening, and always learning from you.

Show Research or Examples on Why Growth Mindset Is Important

Depending on your child's age, showing them research on how growth mindset positively effects people can help paint a clearer picture. This is particularly true if your child is a bit older. As children enter tween and teen years it is common for them to doubt and challenge parent's view points. If you have research to share, it shows your child that growth mindset is not just something mom or dad made up.

Another thing you can do is find famous people, or people your child looks up to that have or support a growth mindset. For example, if your child loves the Harry Potter series, you can discuss how many times J.K. Rowling got rejected, and how she was living in her car prior to someone accepting Harry Potter. Imagine if she had just given up? But she didn't she believed in herself, and her story, and she kept honing her craft until she was successful. Seeing people they look up to succeed gives your child a tangible experience to hold on to to help encourage them to keep going.

So, Why Is Growth Mindset So Important?

To summarize, growth mindset is so important because it will play a huge role in your child's success and happiness in life. Having a growth mindset has the ability to change the way your child thinks about problems, themselves, and the world around them for the better. Increased self-esteem, academic performance, problem-solving abilities, and ability to handle stress are just some of the benefits. It all starts at home, with you modeling good behavior and encouraging this mindset. Help your child have it all, starting with a positive outlook on themselves and the world.

I hope you found value here today. Here at Building Bright Minds we strive to unlock potential and ignite passion, one mind at a time. 

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