Growth Mindset Parenting: PART 1: Are you a Plant or a Rock?

“Growth Mindset” is the new buzz term we are all hearing about. Based on the work of Carol Dweck, it explains the power behind our beliefs. When we believe that achievement is based on intelligence, talent and natural abilities that we are born with, we immediately put a ceiling on what we are able to accomplish in life. Intelligence is a rock. It’s there and can’t be moved. We have what is called a “Fixed Mindset”.

In a “Growth Mindset”, achievement comes through a series of learning experiences. Talent, intelligence and natural abilities are areas that need to be nurtured for growth. Like a plant, the more effort and resources we out in, the stronger our intelligence grows.

The words we choose to use as parents have power. Children will find subtext in even the smallest sentences. Here is an example:

Aria comes home from school with a sticker on her shirt. You ask her why she got the sticker. She lets you know that she read her poem in front of the class as an example of great work.

If you are a rock, you say, “Well done, Aria! You are so clever! I am so proud of you for getting this sticker and talking in class.” This seems like the right thing to do. You want her to know that she did well. Here is the subtext:

 “The fact that you are born clever is why you achieved. The parts of the experience to be valued are the sticker, chance to speak and my pride.”

If you are a plant, you say, “Wow! Look at how much creativity you put into this poem! You really worked hard on this. Do you feel proud of yourself for writing such a special poem? What part did you like the best? How did you decide to write it this way?” You still want her to know she did well. Here is the subtext:

“The fact that you worked hard on the process is why you achieved. The parts of the experience to be valued are the effort, the process, and pride in yourself.”

When a child learns to value effort and strategy rather than being clever, they learn early on that the more they give, the more they yield. This is a skill that becomes as simple as breathing when it is properly nurtured and reinforced.

Our next article on Growth Mindset will be on The Power of Yet.

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