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What is Growth Mindset?

~ Sunday 3 April, 2022 ~

We all have beliefs about ourselves, our abilities and our talents. These beliefs form our mindset — and they can impact everything from our daily successes, our academic achievements and our relationships with ourselves and others. Studies have shown that having a positive mindset is associated with a full, happy life, this can be referred to as having a growth mindset.

Carol Dweck, a psychologist and researcher created the term ‘Growth Mindset’ after decades of studying children who faced obstacles with curiosity and excitement rather than panic or avoidance.

What is a Fixed Mindset and what is a Growth Mindset?

Carol Dweck discovered that there are two ways of viewing traits we are born with, like intelligence and disposition. One view is that humans have a fixed outlook and are unable to change or develop their mindset over time. This way of thinking is associated with, apprehension, fear of failure and avoiding challenges.

Alternatively, a growth mindset means qualities like intelligence and talents are just the starting point. When the brain is viewed as a muscle that gets stronger with practice, those with a growth mindset persevere despite obstacles. They welcome feedback as a vehicle for self-growth and as a result develop self-confidence and resilience.

Explaining a Growth Mindset to children

Recently, my ten-year-old nephew discovered something amazing. “I have been practising my shooting drills at football and it has taken me ages to be able to get the ball in the goal, but my shots have finally got closer and closer. I think practising has really helped me!” he proudly explained. I was so thrilled that he had begun to grasp the meaning of a growth mindset.

When explaining growth mindset to children, it’s important to start with the basics and to explain the reasons why having a growth mindset can support children in the wider world. You may explain that we all have our own set of beliefs about our skills or intelligence and believing that when things feels hard or scary that we can learn and grow from these experiences.

You might say, “A growth mindset means believing in yourself and the power of your brain. Think of your brain as a flower or a tree, they are like a living, growing thing that is capable of adapting and changing when they are given new information. Our brains get stronger when they have to complete difficult tasks and when they make mistakes. This is why trying something new or challenging can actually make us more intelligent.”

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