One of the most important things we can teach our children is to maintain a growth mindset. I think it is far more important than most parents and teachers realize. When kids have a growth mindset, they actually see the world differently and have a more exciting and challengingly rewarding childhood. Here is how to instill a growth mindset in your kids, grandkids, or students.
Teach Children it’s Okay to be Wrong
Too often we put the incorrect emphasis on being right. We need to teach kids it is okay to be wrong on the way to doing something right. In fact, don’t scold them for making a mistake as long as they have honestly tried their best to solve the problem. Tell them about other people who have made mistakes and how these people learned from their blunders and continued on to become great successes in life.
Explain that if everybody learned it was okay to be wrong the first time or as many times as it took to figure out how to do something right, the world would be a better place. Encourage children to ask for help when they need it, and realize that sometimes, doing something with assistance is the only right way.
Remember not to force your kids to try to succeed at something when they may just not cut out for that kind of endeavor. That way lies madness and tears.
Teach Kids to Talk About Mistakes
Teach children the value of reviewing and discussing mistakes. This will open up room for learning lessons and brainstorming new ideas to try. Too often we think admitting a mistake is a sign of weakness rather than a sign of strength. We need to redefine what we think success is. In truth, being right the first time is a much less desirable outcome than having to figure out a way to make something work.
Model a Growth Mindset for Them
The best way to show children how to have a growth mindset is to model it for them. “Do as I say, not as I do” is not something I respected as an answer from my father as a child. In fact, I wish I could say that I have never let the words uttered from my own lips. But, in actuality, I have not always been the best example of patience and a user of a growth mindset. I am getting better, and my kids are beginning to notice.
Children, especially the very young, need modeling as an example. They mirror what they see in the adults and role models they look up to. Be aware that little eyes are always watching to see how you handle things and take on challenges.
Let Them See Your Struggles
Do not think you are doing your children any favors by hiding your struggles from them. It is far worse for them to think you are awesome at something and never have to work at accomplishing anything. It gives off a very damaging impression. Oh, I know we want others we work with or want to impress, that things come easy to us, but it can damage your children in deep ways.
When younger people see you struggle and overcome something it is far more motivating than the opposite. By the way, in entertainment, the “Hero’s Journey” relies heavily on the initial failure, struggle, and then overcoming all obstacles to win narrative. So, if you want to be seen by your children, stop thinking it is a bad thing for them to see you struggle. Watching someone struggle and overcome is one of the things we use that defines the character of a person.
Teach Kids the Other Magic Word “Yet”
We spend so much time teaching our kids the magic word “Please”, but it holds far less magic than the word “Yet”. The word yet is so powerful because it prepares the brain to look for alternative ways of doing something. It also leaves no room for giving up. If you hear a child, say, “I can’t do it” it is far different than hearing them say “I can’t do it yet” Yet holds hope, it motivates and directs us to keep going.
Be sure you spend at least as much time teaching your kids the word yet, as you do the word, please. The impact will have on their future and their potential happiness is huge.
More Thoughts on Teaching Kids so They Develop a Growth Mindset
By now we probably agree that teaching your kids to have a Growth Mindset is important, and a couple of ways to be sure you impact their development of one, here are a few more things to consider doing.
How do You Develop a Growth Mindset in Your Children?
The first and simplest way to do this is to encourage them to solve problems. When the focus is to solve the problem rather than to be right, growth happens. Teach your children several different approaches to problem-solving. Teach them that every problem has multiple solutions.
Educate your kids on the concept of scenario solutions. Show them that the easiest solution is not always the best. There are Win/Lose solutions. Win/Win solutions as well as Lose/Lose and the coveted Win/Win solution.
How to Teach Kids About the Power of a Growth Mindset
The best way I have found to show children the power of a growth mindset is through the use of brainstorming. Especially when combined with the concept of the Win/Win outcome as a solution. When used in a group setting the impact is magnified. They can begin to see new points of view and create new possibilities that seemed not to be there before.
Group challenges working toward a seemingly impossible goal is best. But it often is a great motivator for those who have already sparked their creative side. So start with smaller challenges and make them more challenging as they get more comfortable.
What to Say When They Struggle Despite Strong Effort
Use encouragement to keep motivation levels high. Too often the default is to poke fun at or try to motivate using negativity. Do not fall into this camp too early. This works well for those who know they can prove you wrong, but for those who are fragile, they may simply believe you. Watch your words with children.
How to Teach Kids About a Growth Mindset
The easiest way to answer this is to say one day at a time. Remember, you are going to mess up and make mistakes. Own them, learn from them, and move on. Model a growth mindset at every possible chance. Especially when you think no one is watching. The best way to teach kids about anything is to learn and do it yourself. So get going, and learn it together.
Teach Them to Keep Trying to Solve a Hard Problem, Even if They Can’t See The End Solution
The education system is doing better than in the past by trying to teach a growth mindset. The new standards are designed to expose kids to problems that need to be analyzed. The work is being tested with children in the early grades to encourage problem-solving skills. This is great, but not enough, they need to see it done at home as well.
Many people have a hard time dealing with change. Especially if the change requires them to think a bit more. Many people won’t make the necessary adjustments to their thinking to enjoy the benefits of the changes that are taking place. You can not only do this, but you can also teach it as well.
Teach Them to Pay Attention to Their Approaches to Problem-solving
Problem-solving strategies are powerful tools that are forgotten. Ask your child how they might decide to solve a particular problem. This is a great way to build self-esteem and an appreciation for how smart your child really is. With the focus on solving the challenge, there is no pressure to have a “right” answer the first time. Ask “what about…?” or “what if…” questions to keep them digging deeper for the best possible answers to problems.
Teach Them to Try Out New Ideas and Approaches to Problem Solving
Ask your child if there is another way to solve the problem. Help them figure out what else they can do to solve the problem. Try to come up with five great answers or solutions to each situation. Don’t give up too fast! You will be shocked at how creative you and they will become when more solutions are developed between you. Don’t be afraid of failure either.
One of my favorite things to remember and share with others when it comes to facing a problem is the HALT technique. When things get hard or frustrating, take a moment and HALT. Or ask yourself if you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. It is hard to focus on creativity if you are experiencing these interruptions. Children will often benefit from learning to HALT before spiraling out of control when a problem arises.
Remember that you won’t be 100% a growth mindset all the time. A growth mindset takes deliberate concentration, so HALT and make sure you are ready for the task before starting.
Be Aware and Reset as Necessary
If you find yourself saying something to your child that doesn’t encourage them to never give up, don’t beat yourself up. Many of the things you say to your kids inadvertently teaches them to hold themselves back. If you do choose to work together on mindset, share your struggles with each other. Practice open communication. Things will get easier with time and practice.
If you are looking for a supportive group that are all focused on growing their mindset, join The Bindless Mindset FB Group and learn to unravel your full potential.