Fixed vs. growth mind­set: why it mat­ters to kids

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Opinion - DESIREA AGAR (Desirea Agar is a Health Pro­mo­tion Co­or­di­na­tor with Al­berta Health Ser­vices and can be reached at [email protected])

Does your child want to quit a new sport or ac­tiv­ity as soon as they aren’t per­form­ing well?

Do they strug­gle to over­come ad­ver­sity?

Are they im­me­di­ately turned off from school work when they hit a road block?

If you see this in your child, it could be be­cause they are view­ing the world through a fixed mind­set.

They are see­ing the skill or abil­ityas some­thing they “just aren’t good at” rather than some­thing they could “work hard to fig­ure out.”

Re­search shows that some peo­ple see their in­tel­li­genceor skills as some­thing un­change­able. They ei­ther are or aren’t good at math, lay ups, read­ing, danc­ing, etc. This is called a ‘fixed’ mind­set. Oth­ers have a dif­fer­ent view of them­selves, they see them­selves as change­able and able to grow their abil­i­ties with ef­fort over time. This is called a ‘growth’ mind­set.

Hav­ing a growth mind­set is proven to sup­port kids’cur­rent and fu­ture suc­cess in aca­demics, in re­la­tion­ships, and even in their ca­reers later in life.

It also helps chil­dren to be re­silient. This means that when the hard­stuff in life creeps in (and it will, we all know that) they are bet­ter able to adapt, prob­lem solve, and grow with the process. This is im­por­tant stuff !

“We can all agree that mean­ing­ful school­work pro­motes stu­dents’ learn­ing of aca­demic con­tent. But why stop there? I be­lieve that mean­ing­ful work can also teach stu­dents to love chal­lenges, to en­joy ef­fort, to be re­silient, and to value their own im­prove­ment.

In other words, we can de­sign and present learn­ing tasks in a way that helps stu­dents de­velop a growth mind­set, which leads to not just short-term achieve­ment but also long-term suc­cess.” – Dr. Carol Dweck

So, as par­ents, how can we sup­port the de­vel­op­ment of a growth mind­set in our chil­dren?

It re­ally comes down to the way we praise our kids. We all know that praise is im­por­tant, but fram­ing our praise in a cer­tain way can help our kids’life­long learn­ing and growth.

Let’s pre­tend your child has con­tin­u­ally re­ceived 10/10 on their spell­ing tests with lit­tle ef­fort.

You are un­doubt­edly re­ally proud of your lit­tle per­son, so you’ve praised them with “Wow! You are so smart!”

How­ever, the words are start­ing to get harder, and your lit­tle per­son is no longer get­ting 10/10 on their tests. If they view be­ing smart as an in­nate and fixed trait, they may be start­ing to doubt their abil­i­ties and be­come quite frus­trated. What’s more they may lose in­ter­est in learn­ing al­to­gether. How­ever, if you fo­cus on the ef­fort and work they put in, con­tin­u­ally prais­ing them with phrases like “wow you must re­ally pay at­ten­tion in class” or “you must re­ally fo­cus dur­ing your tests” or “I can see that you re­ally work hard dur­ing class time,” then they can see the tools they need to im­prove their spell­ing scores are read­ily avail­able to them (fo­cus, at­ten­tion, hard work).

This type of praise sup­ports the de­vel­op­ment of a growth mind­set.

It’s re­ally just a mat­ter of say this, not that. So here’s a few ex­am­ples to use to help your kids de­velop a growth mind­set:

Say this: “It seems like it’s time to try a new strat­egy” be­cause it lets your kids know that they con­trol out­comes by mak­ing choices.

Not this: “It’s okay, maybe you’re just not cut out for this” be­cause it makes your kid think they don’t have the ca­pac­ity to im­prove.

Say this: “It looks like that was too easy for you. Let’s find you some­thing chal­leng­ing so your brain can grow” be­cause it teaches kids that learn­ing should be chal­leng­ing, and if tasks are too easy then your brain isn’t grow­ing.

Not this: “That’s right! You did that so quickly and eas­ily; great job!” be­cause prais­ing tasks com­pleted with­out much ef­fort paints ef­fort in a neg­a­tive light and en­cour­ages a fixed mind­set. For more ex­am­ples see: www.mind­set­­ents/growth-mind­set-par­ent­ing

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