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10 ways to help children develop a growth mindset

10 ways to help children develop a growth mindset

More than intellect, our success depends on our attitude, approach, and effort in pursuing knowledge and skills

A growth mindset helps us believe that with time and effort, our brain can grow and help us learn many new things

Human beings are born with a wide range of intellectual prowess. Dynamic, distinct, and diverse, our ability to learn and excel is immense. But, not all of us have the same levels of aptitudes and inclinations for all the subjects.

Our ability to learn vary, depending on our interests and aptitude. Hence, it is essential to identify a learner’s aptitude and interest in a subject to ensure greater success in mastering a particular field of knowledge.

Every child is born with the infinite ability to excel in a subject and achieve great success in a field they pursue. All we need is the right mindset, correct approach, necessary tools, and persistent action.

A person can achieve anything he or she wants even without all the required resources and support. All one needs is the belief that the goal is achievable and the willingness to bounce back after every fall.

This comes from the strong conviction that with practice and persistence, anything is achievable. This comes from the mindset that with consistent effort and discipline, anybody can be successful – this is the growth mindset.

The growth mindset encourages passion for learning and instills enthusiasm for facing new challenges. Children with this kind of attitude and mindset outperform those with a fixed mindset, which restricts efforts and limits performance.

A growth mindset helps us believe that with time and efforts our brain can grow and help us learn many new things.

We are all born with certain strengths and limitations, but these are not static. Research, experiments and surveys have proven that people with persistent effort to improve are more likely to succeed in life than those who see themselves as gifted and don’t make persistent effort to get better.

Intellect comes in various types and and all of us are endowed with a range of intellectual abilities.

When we talk about intellectual growth, we don’t just talk about the brain inside our head, it covers a wide range of faculties including our heart, spirit and emotions.

However, brain is the most important organ for data retention and academic excellence. It also helps us process the information that our senses collect. Hence, brain is a dynamic organ, the central command centre that is in constant touch with our entire body and the surroundings, constantly collecting, retrieving, processing and communicating information.

Our brain functions like a muscle, it gets better and sharper with use. The more we exercise our brain by using it, the stronger it gets. With better use, we will find ways to enhance and open for us the wonders and miracles of our brain.

Hence, in school and at home we should develop the culture and attitude of constant striving to get better. Through our words and actions, our children should get the message loud and clear that with efforts they can improve their intellectual ability and get better at anything and everything.

So, here are the 10 ways we can develop the growth mindset:

Be the Role Model

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Be the change that you want to see. In order to nurture the growth mindset in our learners, they should see the educators and parents pursuing growth.

Fixed mindset of parents and educators will certainly hamper children’s intellectual growth and performance, particularly in reading and learning new things.

According to several latest studies, the students who showed the most growth had parents who embraced a growth mindset. So, if you want to see your children grow intellectually, let them see you with the following:

Persisting with difficult tasks, trying to learn something new regularly, readily taking on new challenges, learning from mistakes, treating failures as a step towards success.

Discuss the Brain

Discussing how the brain works with the children and making it part of our daily discussion at home and in classrooms is essential in wiring the growth mindset in our children. Our constant brain talk will help them use their brain, make mental experiments and feel the power of brain.

According to Dr. Dan Siegel, author of The Whole-Brain Child, children start developing a growth mindset just from learning how their brain functions and grows.

Once our children realise that the brain actually physically grows connections and connections between neurones strengthen as they practise and learn new skills and concepts, they get excited about the learning process and feel less worried about making mistakes.

Mind Your Language

The language we use in our daily life is highly important in creating the growth mindset. Our words impact our mindset and transform our attitude. Developing a “can do” attitude requires constant self talk that tells our brain that “we can do it.” The atmosphere around the child should also resonate such a spirit and attitude.

With the right language and attitude, children will learn to see every challenge as an opportunity.

It is natural for a person to feel overwhelmed by a situation or when exposed to something new, with such a feeling often comes the depressing phrases such as “I can’t do it,” “This is too difficult,” or “I am not good at this” etc. But, with a growth mindset the language changes. Instead, the children learn to add ‘yet’ to their language. “I can’t do this, YET, but I will keep trying!” It is the job of the educators and parents to help children use the right language, as these impact heavily in creating the right mindset.

The Brain Vocabulary

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To achieve any goal in life it is important to deep dive in the process and the subject. Deeper understanding of the subject and the familiarity with the terms used in the domain goes a long way in making the learner comfortable with the process.

Hence, bringing the terms such as neurones, neuroplasticity, mindset, intellect etc. will help children find the definitions of these words, while helping them relate to these and internalise their meanings.

The power of greater vocabulary of relevant terms will also help them in reading about the subject and learning more.

No Labels Please

Labels are an important part of our daily conversation and engagements. Whether good or bad, negative or positive, the labels we use confine our children to certain boxes, and persistent use of these help them stay there forever. Statements such as “you are so dumb,” or “you are not good at this,” will make them think about themselves in the same way. Even positive labels can prove to be confining or can result in a fixed mindset. If a child constantly hears that he or she is very smart, then they will most likely develop complacency, and will start thinking that they don’t need to put more efforts.

Instead of motivating kids, both positive and negative labels communicate a fixed mindset.

To make our children understand that they can continually grow, change and improve, we need to make them realise that regardless of their innate ability, their success depends on the time and effort they put into learning something.

Goal-setters are go-getters

Helping our children plan and set goals is one of the best ways of developing the growth mindset in them.

Taking the children through the process of pursuing and achieving the goals, boosts their ability to see themselves as capable of constant improvement and learning.

While setting goals make sure they are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.

It’s important that when we set goals we come up with a specific plan to improve.

Basically, goals should be meaningful, helpful, practical and realistic.

Celebrate the Mistakes

Fear of failure is among the biggest impediments in human progress. Children are naturally free from this fear, but as they grow older they acquire the fear of failure from the culture they live in, where it is rampant.

Fear of failure or mistakes stops people from trying new things or experimenting and without trial and error there is no progress.

In order to develop the growth mindset in the children it is essential that we give them the freedom to try and fail. At home and in school, we should develop an atmosphere where children are free to make experiments and pursue new ideas without the fear of ridicule or reprimand.

Appreciate Efforts

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Rather than the intellect, the effort of the child should be the focus of our discussion. Parents who praise their child’s effort instead of their result have a significantly positive impact on their children’s academic potential.

It is critically important that the educators and parents focus on the process children take to obtain a set of skills or knowledge, not the end result.

Read and Grow Rich

Books are among the most important sources of learning anything and learning about growth mindset is no different. There are some very interesting books written on this subject, specially designed and tailored for children, with the ideas expressed in a language that children can understand. Here is a list of a few:

  • Your Fantastic Elastic Brain: Stretch It, Shape It – by JoAnn Deak
  • A Walk In The Rain with a Brain – by Edward M. Hallowell
  • Making A Splash – Growth Mindset for Kids – by Carol E. Reiley
  • I Knew You Could: A Book for All Stops In Your Life – by Craig Dorfman
  • Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn – by John C. Maxwell.

Seeing is Inspiring

Audio-visuals create a great impact on the mind and young people learn better and relate more to what they see on the screen. There are plenty of movies and animated films that portray lives of people who go on to become great achievers, innovators and leaders by their sheer dint of efforts. Regular exposure to these movies and discussion about the central characters can go a long way in developing the growth mindset among young people. Here are few good examples:

  • The Kungfu Panda series
  • The Blind Side
  • Good Will Hunting
  • Brave
  • Finding Nemo

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