Perhaps the most exciting news in the parenting over the last decade is the discovery of brain plasticity. That is, the brain is always growing and developing. It’s exciting to know that your child’s talent and smarts are not fixed. Their brains can always learn more, continue to grow and be stretched. Carol Dweck, author of “The New Psychology of Success” believes that a growth mindset is the quality that separates those who succeed from those who don’t. So how can a parent develop a growth mindset in children? Here are three simple ideas to get you started:
1. Praise effort, strategy and action not results
Focus more on the processes of what kids do rather than results to develop a growth mindset. Kids need to hear comments such as “You worked hard to get that right!”(effort), “That was a smart idea to tackle the hardest task while you were fresh!”(strategy) and “You recognised the first few steps were the most important but then after that you were right.”(action). This type of praise, also known as encouragement, helps kids develop the belief that success has more to do with what they do than innate smarts and talents.
2. Look for opportunities to stretch your child’s capabilities
Encourage kids to stretch their capabilities by adding depth and breadth to their list of activities. Boys, in particular, often go deep investing all their time into areas of interest such as sport or online gaming to develop their talents over time. Encourage them to stretch their capabilities across a range of areas rather than a few. Conversely, encourage a child who dabbles in many areas or interests without specialising in any area, to go deeper in one area.
3. Give honest feedback
Providing your child with honest feedback about their performance not only helps them improve, but also promotes a growth mindset. We often shy away from giving feedback for fear of harming their self-esteem. Confidence can be maintained by being sensitive to how we provide feedback. For instance, focusing on two or three things kids do well before giving constructive feedback is one way you can keep young a learner’s head up while giving pointers about better performance.