Children's Development

Growth Mindset – We CAN Do Hard Things!

Why do small setbacks frustrate and discourage some learners, while others seem to thrive in the face of challenges?  What is the difference between these individuals? Researchers believe that it’s all about the mindset! Psychologist Carol Dweck coined the term “growth mindset” encouraging the idea that by using strategies, working hard, and collaborating with others, we can create connections in the brain.

Putting less emphasis on “smarts” and instead understanding that skills and talents can be developed overtime, empowers the child. Taking the leap, tolerating risks, and pushing through road blocks all require courage. For some it comes more naturally, for others, it is a skill that can be taught. You can grow your brain to learn new things. You can view challenges as an opportunity to flourish.

How do you encourage a growth mindset? Try praising kids for effort and not outcome. Nudge them to do the hard thing instead of taking the easy path. Combat negative self-talk by using phrases like:

I’m still working on learning this.

I can do amazing things.

I can improve if I stick to it.

Intelligence (or talents) can be developed.

I have not mastered a skill just yet….

Do not shy away from things I can’t immediately master.

Think about the specific areas that cause children to become frustrated when being corrected? Is it a school subject, sport, or chore?

Encourage a growth mindset in this area. Words of praise are great for kids and we can be intentional in the types of compliments we are giving. Promote the skills that are most important for growing those connections in the brain. These are things that you have to work and struggle to achieve. You’ve got this!

Stephanie Standley M. Ed. is a mom, educator, writer, and outdoor enthusiast. She received her undergraduate degrees in Sociology and Psychology as well as a Master of Education-Literacy from the University of San Diego. Stephanie has 12+ years of classroom experience as a teacher and currently supports students in Special Education. She is inspired to use evidence-based practices to educate children in creative and engaging ways.