You give a math task to your child and wait for the answer, “I cannot do this task. I don’t understand math”. “I can’t do this task yet. I don’t understand this math problem.”
Which one would be his or her answer? The way your child copes with challenges isn’t just about being motivated or resilient. It could be the result of having what is known as a growth mindset.
This term describes how we deal with challenges and setbacks. People with a growth mindset believe that their skills can improve over time.
On the other hand, people with a fixed mindset think that their abilities cannot change despite trying.
Having a growth mindset can have great benefits. You can help children (and their families) cope with challenges in a different way.
That’s the power of the word “yet” when your child complains about homework. Although the task is difficult, recognizing that it will not always be so difficult requires a growth mindset.
But first of all, what is a growth mindset, and How do students with a growth mindset see their mistakes? How can we help our children to develop a growth mindset?
Stay with Mindsetopia to answer these questions!
What is the growth mindset?
The concept of the growth mindset has been around for some time. It was developed by Professor Carol Dweck.
She and her colleagues conducted studies that showed that children who accepted challenges believed they could improve. While children who recoiled from challenges believed that their skills could not improve.
Suppose certain children who have writing problems get poor grades on various essays. If they are convinced that it is because they are “bad at writing” and that nothing will change it, they are showing a fixed mindset and are likely to stop trying.
If children say they have trouble with writing but keep trying, they are showing a growth mindset.
Not having a growth mindset is something that can be changed, according to Carol Dweck. It is a myth to think otherwise.
If you want to know more about the growth mindset then this video from Trevor Ragan youtube channel can be helpful:
In fact, we all have a mix of fixed and growth mindsets that changes based on our experiences and the feedback we receive.
Having a growth mindset doesn’t just mean being open and accepting of others’ feedback.
It means accepting them and learning from the experience, and thus developing strategies for improvement. It is believing that you can achieve it even if you fail at something.
How do students with a growth mindset see their mistakes?
Students who have a growth mindset always focus on one thing: progress! For them, making mistakes and failing is a natural part of the process of improvement.
In fact, making mistakes is not a failure for them! Instead, it is an intro to success and learning a new subject! They usually see mistakes as steps that will eventually lead them to their ultimate goal.
For example, suppose two students, one with a fixed mindset and another with a growth mindset, are given a math task, and both answers are wrong. When we asked about the problem, we received these answers :
The student with a fixed mindset: I made a mistake, and I do not know the answer. I can not solve this problem.
The student with a grown mindset: I made a mistake, and I do not know the answer yet. But I have to try other solutions.
The student with a fixed mindset quickly gave up on the first mistake and believed that he could not solve this math question, but the student with a growth mindset uses the word “yet” and knows that he can solve the problem with a little effort.
So here are some points that explain how students with a growth mindset see their mistakes:
- They accept and review the mistake to learn from it.
- They analyze the mistake to know the reason behind it (ex: playing video games, not studying enough and etc…)
- They create action plans to stop that mistake from happing again (ex: they take that game console away when they want to study)
- They always look for help from different sources such as internet, teachers, friends, and books.
- They are persistent when they want to reach study goals.
The growth mindset is more than striving
Another misconception is that the growth mindset is the same as striving. Knowing the difference helps you praise your child in the best way.
Praising your child’s talent or “smart” (“you’re very good at math”) can promote a fixed mindset. It is affirming that your child’s ability in mathematics is something that he “possesses” naturally.
Praising your child’s effort (“you tried so hard”) is more beneficial as it helps build his self-esteem.
However, it is not enough to promote a growth mindset. If children do not use the appropriate strategies, they will not improve no matter how hard they try.
The most important thing is to praise the way they face challenges, not how hard they tried or how well they did.
For example, you might praise how your child solved a math problem or the system he used to complete all week’s homework on time. This is called praising the process. Emphasizing your child’s steps to achieve the end result is the best way to promote a growth mindset.
Focusing on the process shows that getting stuck, asking for help, and trying new strategies are also important.
For example, you could say to your child, “I’m impressed with how hard you put in your science project.
I know you had a hard time getting started, but you were very wise to ask your teacher to help you divide the assignment.
It seems that working with a colleague helped you take responsibility for finishing all the work. Your grade reflects your effort! “
The growth mindset and children who think and learn differently
We all have times when we feel like we will never get better at something or that we are destined to fail. Some children face more obstacles and setbacks than others, leading to a fixed mindset when faced with specific difficulties.
Children who think and learn differently may feel judged and criticized. They know they are not doing as well as their peers and feel “foolish. “As a result, they feel insecure or defensive, and their development is impaired.
The mindset of adults can affect them too. Children may be told to “try harder” to use the same strategies or learning methods that have not worked in the past. This will not make you feel good about the effort you are putting in.
Also, this video from the Hands Up youtube channel can help you to shape a growth mindset in children:
Parenting style to promote a growth mindset
According to Dweck, there is a parenting style that promotes growth mindsets in children. The way we deliver our messages of encouragement and interpret success and failure make all the difference.
If you want to develop a growth mindset and perseverance in a child, your comments should be about concrete results, not that you rate the whole personality as a whole.
When the child does something well, you should refer to the manner or method used and the effort that he put into it.
Just the opposite of what a fixed-minded parenting style would do: I would praise the person for the positive outcome, attribute it to their special gifts (“you’re a very smart kid”), and not make many references to method or effort.
A child who lives in a fixed mindset will be afraid of being a fraud and will show more anxiety about poor results and more intolerance of error or failure.
A child brought up with messages that convey the concept of dynamic intelligence, that does not put the emphasis on the talented personality, will be more inclined to try new things, to tolerate learning difficulties and will not be constantly worried about taking care of his image and appearing infallibility or perfection.
How to help your child develop a growth mindset
A big part of having a growth mindset is removing any obstacle that can be in the way of improvement.
It is essential for children to know that obstacles can be a way forward. Tell your child to speak up if something is not working. Encourage them to advocate for themselves and ask for help.
Children also need to know that the people around them believe that they can find ways to correct their mistakes.
It’s not really good to say something like, “Don’t worry. Maybe science is not your subject”. That reaction can promote a fixed mindset as it teaches them that they can’t improve in science.
Instead, have a conversation about what to do next. This can be very helpful.
Talk about what your child learned from the experience: “How will you study next time? Would it help if we talked to the teacher? Would it be useful to have a study guide?
Developing a growth mindset is an ongoing process.
It is not easy to receive and accept feedback, learn from mistakes, and find other ways to cope with tasks. But it is a valuable way for children to learn that talents can be developed.
- Children with a growth mindset believe that their abilities can improve over time.
- Praise the way your child faces a challenge, not just his effort.
- Talking about learning from failure can help develop a growth mindset.
Why is the word “yet” powerful in developing a growth mindset?
The answer lies in one word: progress! when a student uses the “Yet” in facing a challenge or a problem it tells his or her subconscious mind that although I don’t know the answer but I am going to learn it as soon as possible.
Learning is one of the most fundamental elements for developing a growth mindset. When you use the word “yet” you talk to your mind like this: “Hey man, although I don’t know the answer now but it doesn’t mean that I give up and I don’t wanna learn it! no, I am going to learn it soon.”
In other words, the word “yet” keeps the learning part of your mind open while not using it may close the learning in the mind and that why many students with fixed mindsets don’t grow.