Growth Mindset for Kids: Where Do I Start?

encourage growth mindset in kids by planting a garden

Educators, parents, counselors and anyone with children want to help kids develop a growth mindset. After all, the value of a growth mindset is widely known. It promotes success, happiness, resilience and learning. In fact, the TEDx Talk given by Stanford University Professor Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., helped launch the growth mindset movement, dedicating much of its time to the education of children.

But telling your child about a growth mindset in itself won’t go far. Even more than adults, kids learn through activity, modeling and the example you set.

Here, we have provided some key steps and top resources to assist you in nurturing your child’s growth mindset.

Engage kids with growth mindset activities.

Children learn more from observation and interaction than from instruction. As important as we are in their lives, kids learn from the world itself. Children can learn persistence, patience and steady growth through physical interactions and activities, while also learning skills. Some activities even instill the valuable growth mindset lesson that positive outcomes take time. Consider doing these or similar activities with the children in your life:

  • Plant seeds in a window planter or start a garden together
  • Encourage your children to help care for and train the family pet 
  • Invite your kids to help tutor younger siblings or less developed children at school or elsewhere
  • Engage your children in team yoga, basketball and other healthy activities that become even more fun as their skills improve
  • The Headspace: Mindful Meditation app provides self-affirming meditations and breathing exercises designed specifically for kids (ages 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12) to build emotional resilience and mindfulness

Finally, consider encouraging your kids to chart their growth and success over time. For example, use a star system on a bulletin board to track the books your children have read. Even more proactively, using a daily journal to chart their own math progress can help your child see the advances they’ve made over time.

The ‘power of yet’ lives in kids’ books.

Dweck herself spoke on “the power of yet” in children’s education. The word “yet” acknowledges the potential for improvement. For instance, a child might say, “I am not good at reading… yet.” Many books for kids embrace this growth mindset. Rather than teaching or preaching, children’s books show how relatable characters grow in aspects of bravery, knowledge and soft skills such as cooperation.

Some children’s books that feature a powerful growth mindset include:

Consider using educational tools to nurture a growth mindset in kids.

As a child, you probably had your share of classroom workbooks. But you learned many of the same skills through activity books, too. And they were fun! Scholarship in understanding—and accepting—how kids learn has come a long way in gamifying the learning process. Here are some activity books that consciously promote confidence and a growth mindset for kids:

You can also search “growth mindset activities for kids” at Amazon.com or elsewhere for a wide range of titles to suit your child’s age group and subject matter interest.

Set an example of growth and resilience for your kids.

Kids learn from our example, but that goes beyond our spoken words and overt behaviors. They also learn from complex, “adult” situations and how we react to them. Your child might not understand why you had a bad day at work, but they will learn from how you respond to it.

The best way to promote a growth mindset of personal empowerment and resilience for your kids is to learn and practice it for yourself. That is, rather than modeling behavior, become the model you want to instill.

Accept growth and learning as a continual process in yourself first. Resist negative speech. Replace language such as “I am bad at gardening” with “Let’s learn to garden together.” In fact, if you feel inadequate at anything, such as golf, yoga, chess or math, learning with your child is a great opportunity to grow skills together. The situation is a win-win. You both get to embrace the growth mindset together and learn something new. And you’ll feel all the more victorious if the child outperforms you over time!

Photo by narikan/Shutterstock

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Bryan enjoys the digital space where arts and technology meet. As a writer, he has worked in education, health and wellbeing, and manufacturing. He also assists smaller businesses in web development including accessibility and content development. In his free time, he hikes trails in central Florida.

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