“Think growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset”
So the other day I was reading a fascinating article about the idea by Stanford University psychologist Dr. Carol Dweck about motivating children and how one little change in how we talk to our kids can help them be more motivated and eventually more successful.
The "fixed vs growth mindset" is a very simple, straight-forward approach you might have been aware of it already, consciously or even unconsciously. Either way, I wanted to share it here with you. It clicked with me instantly and you will see how easy it is to incorporate it in your daily routine and the way you talk to your child. Because it just makes sense.
Kids with a fixed mindset are being constantly told “You are so smart.” In order not to disappoint in the next challenge they become afraid of trying and afraid of looking “dumb” and therefore stay away from challenges to continue to look smart at all times. On the other hand there are kids with a growth mindset believing that their intelligence can simply be developed through their effort and dedication. They know they can change and grow through experience and do not have to accept you are “not creative” or you “might be dumb” because of a current state like not being able to solve a certain math problem etc. Dr. Dweck found lots of evidence in her over twenty years of research and puts it best in her own words: “In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that's that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don't necessarily think everyone's the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it." Here are a few great examples from the everyday life to compare the two mindsets:
FIXED MINDSET would say: “Not everyone is good at math. You tried your best.”
GROWTH MINDSET would say: “If you catch yourself saying ‘I am just not a math person’, just add the word ‘yet” to the end of the sentence.”
FIXED MINDSET would say: "You got an 80% on your test." (And then moving on to the next chapter immediately.)”
GROWTH MINDSET would say: "You got an 80% on your test; that means you are well on your way to knowing this stuff! If you review the ones you missed and take the test again tomorrow, I bet you'll get closer to a 100%."
FIXED MINDSET would say: "Wow, you got [X many] right. That’s a really good score. You must be smart at this.”
GROWTH MINDSET would say: "Wow, you got [X many] right. That’s a really good score. You must have worked really hard."
FIXED MINDSET would say: “You finished that puzzle so quickly — what a smart kid!"
GROWTH MINDSET would say: "I'm sorry I wasted your time with an easy puzzle — let me find another one that will give us a bigger challenge. I know we can do it!"
Don’t we all want that for our children? To feel they can make it if they try and that (most of) it is not set in stone? Our world is hard and competitive and there will be setbacks. Let’s help them see those setbacks not as a sentence and a label but rather as a motivating and informative input, like a wakeup call. Living this approach will make your child not believe that her character, intelligence or creativity is a given (fixed mindset) but rather believing that thriving on challenge and seeing failure not as evidence of "unintelligence" but rather as a growth potential (growing mindset).
If you like to learn more, Dr. Dweck also published a book called “Mindset”, where she explains this approach in much more detail and how it is not only useful for parenting but also in business and relationships in general.
Watch this great RSA animate video for an easy understanding.