Parent’s Guide to a Growth Mindset


Dr. Carol Dweck, a professor of psychology at Stanford University and author of the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, studies mindset in children. She believes children are similar to adults in that they have one of two possible mindsets – a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.

Dweck writes:

Growth mindset is the underlying belief that abilities can be developed through effort and practice. Children with a growth mindset persist in the face of challenges because they understand that effort and hard work can change ability and intelligence.

Fixed mindset is the belief that intelligence is static, and cannot be changed. When children are in a fixed mindset, they tend to give up easily when they encounter obstacles, because they believe that they don’t have what it takes to learn hard things.

Dweck suggested few steps for parent to improve their children’s life by following them in your daily life.


When praising your kids do it for their –

  • Effort
  • Strategies
  • Progress
  • Hard work
  • Persistence
  • Rising to a challenge
  • Learning from a mistake

Do not praise for their –

  • Being smart
  • Born gifted
  • Talent
  • Fixed abilities
  • Not making mistakes

Dweck writes:

Every word and action from parent to child sends a message. Tomorrow, listen to what you say to your kids and tune in to the message you are sending. Are they messages that say: You have permanent traits and I’m judging them? Or are they messages that say You’re developing person and I am interested in your development?

Say to your kids –

“You tried very hard and you used the right strategy!”

“What a creative way to solve that problem.”

Dweck writes:

How do you praise? Remember that praising children’s intelligence or talent, tempting as it is, sends a fixed-mindset message. It makes their confidence and motivation more fragile. Instead, try to focus on the processes they used – their strategies, effort, or choices. Practice working the process praise into your interactions with your children. 

2) The Power of “Not Yet”:

Say to your kids –

“You can’t do it yet..”

“You don’t know it yet..”

“But if you learn and practice, you will! “

3) Failures and Mistakes = Learning

Say to your kids –

“You can learn from your mistakes.”

“Mistakes help you to improve.”

“Let’s see what other strategies you can try..”

Dweck writes:

Watch and listen to yourself carefully when your child messes up. Remember that constructive criticism is feedback that helps the child understand how to fix something. It’s not feedback that labels or simply excuses the child. At the end of each day, write down the constructive criticism (and the process praise) you’ve given your kids.

4) ASK:

Ask your kids –

“What did you do today that made you think hard?”

“What new strategies did you try?”

“What mistake did you make that taught you something?”

“What did you try hard at today?”

5) Brain Can Grow:

Say to kids-

“Your brain is like a muscle. When you learn, your brain grows. The feeling of this being hard is the feeling of your brain growing!”

Parents often set goals their children can work toward. Remember that having innate talent is not a goal. Expanding skills and knowledge is. Pay careful attention to the goals you set for your children.

6) Recognize Your Own Mindset:

To parent – be mindful of your own thinking and of the messages you send with your words and actions.

Mindset change is not about picking up a few pointers here and there. It’s about seeing things in a new way. When people – couples, coaches and athletes, managers and workers, parents and children, teachers and students – change to a growth mindset, they change from a judge-and-be-judged framework to a learn-and-help-learn framework. Their commitment is to growth, and growth takes plenty of time, effort, and mutual support.



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