Behavior & Environment

Encouraging a Growth Mindset in Kids

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Modeling and encouraging a growth mindset with kids is one of the best ways to help them overcome perfectionism, learned helplessness, performance fear, and many other stumbling blocks that hold them back from trying new things and enjoying the process, regardless of the outcome. What does an environment that promotes a growth mindset look like?

1. It sees mistakes as learning opportunities
Instead of seeing a mistake as a failure, it sees mistakes as information that informs us what doesn’t work and pushes us to find a different way forward. As Edison said, “I have not failed, but found 1000 ways to not make a light bulb.”

2. It normalizes stumbles as a natural part of the learning process
Everyone experiences setbacks when they’re learning something new. Even those that eventually reach greatness talk about all the hours of practice it took to get there. When setbacks are treated as part of the process rather than something that impedes the process, kids can enjoy each step.

3. It welcomes challenges
When kids are taught to truly enjoy challenging themselves rather than staying in a holding pattern of false perfection, they let go of being perfect and welcome the hard parts. They get excited by the challenge, even when they know they’ll probably fail to reach a high level of competence. The goal becomes a personal best.

4. It values feedback
When kids know how well or poorly they perform isn’t a reflection on their worth, it allows them to be open to feedback and coaching. With their confidence and self-esteem intact, they can hear and implement ideas on how to do better.

Promoting a growth mindset is one of those things that helps kids develop into happy, healthy people who successfully navigate the ups and downs life gives us.