Reading Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Dr. Carol Dweck (2007) changed my life. I’ve always limited my potential with the belief that I’m just not smart enough. Sure, I have a lot of enthusiasm, but sooner or later I told myself that couldn’t keep up. Further, this belief that intellect fueled success prevented me from truly supporting and helping my son.
You see, I can develop and implement interventions to get him to do his homework with great success, but more is required. As his parent, I have a duty to help develop and grow his growth mindset. This will impact his future far more than getting As or performing well on tests. And this is counter to all we’ve been sold in traditional educational settings.
What is a Mindset?
A “fixed mindset” assumes that our intelligence and creative abilities are set and success is “the affirmation of that inherent intelligence…striving for success and avoiding failure at all costs become a way of maintaining the sense of being smart or skilled.” Conversely, a “growth mindset,” seeks challenge and sees failure as an opportunity for growth and for developing our potential.
In Dr. Dweck’s TedTalk (linked below), she mentions the following as ways to increase a growth mindset:
- Praise Wisely – praise process: effort, improvement. Telling your children they are smart will not boost or support a growth approach.
- Teach Not Yet – Help them understand that each time they go outside of their comfort zone, the neurons in their brain will form stronger connections. It is helpful to explain that it is when they use effort and difficulty is when they are getting “smarter.” (Side note, there are fun ways to introduce this to kids. For example, I have my son draw what he thinks the neurons connecting looks like and we watch videos about brains, but I will explain more in my Teaching the Growth Mindset blog post.)
Have you used Mindset in your own life or parenting? What can you recommend to others?