How to Teach Your Kids to Have a Growth Mindset

As we launch into our second week of our summer Mighty Minds program, I’m thinking a lot how we can best help our kids build their growth mindsets…  and wanted to share a few tips and tricks to keep in mind at home!

  • Read books with growth mindset messaging!  My three year-old and I recently discovered Rosie Revere, Engineer, and it is EXCELLENT.  Target audience is early elementary school, but my preschooler likes it too.  Another favorite I’ve used in working with kids in the past is Beautiful Oops.  Each of these books sends a powerful message:  mistakes are part of the process!  And messing things up offers opportunities for growth, progress, and creativity.
  • Point out situations in which your child or others make progress by persisting in the face of failure or difficulty.  For example, if your child says he or she can’t do it…  and then figures it out– praise him/her for persisting even when it was tough AND note that their effort really paid off.  Similarly, if you see others (peers, TV/book characters, athletes, celebrities) struggling in the face of difficulty, then figuring it out, point that out to your child!
  • Set clear expectations that mistakes are part of the process.  For example, you could ask everyone in the family to share at dinner, “What’s the best mistake you made today?”
  • Tell kids that we know that mistakes lead to better learning!  Really, there’s research about this:  making (and correcting) mistakes is one of the most powerful ways to learn and retain information.
  • When your child does inevitably make mistakes or struggle, watch your reactions carefully!  As adults, the way in which we react to mistakes gives our kids information about how big a deal THEY should consider a mistake to be.  If we freak out and get upset (or express disappointment in subtle or unsubtle ways) when our child struggles, we are confirming that struggling and making mistakes is a BIG DEAL… rather than just part of being human.
  • Coach kids around how best to learn from the mistakes they make and/or the challenges they confront.  Just because you haven’t been successful YET doesn’t mean that it’s a failure.  What haven’t you tried yet?  Watch this video from Khan Academy for an example of how to have this kind of conversation with your child
  • Model a growth mindset about your own mistakes or challenges.  When you yourself run into things that are hard, try to respond/react in the way that you want your child to learn how to respond/react, and SHARE that process with your child or children!  Knowing that even adults make mistakes and struggle can really send a powerful message that this process is normal and to be expected.

During the summer, we often find that our kids have fewer opportunities to build their growth mindsets.  They’re out of school (no challenging assignments or tests!), there are fewer extracurricular or athletic activities that might challenge their ability to adopt a growth mindset, and things generally are more mellow.  For that reason, it can be easy for us as parents to let these conversations slide during the summer and only remember that these are skills we want our kids to build AFTER they are back in the thick of it in September.  However, it’s our feeling that summer– when we’re all a bit less frantic and need to devote less mental energy to building other skills!– is a perfect time to try to focus a bit more on developing growth mindset skills that will serve kids well when they move into another academic year.

And remember– although we are now rolling through our second week of summer Mighty Minds, we still have three weeks to go (7/29-8/2, 8/5-8/9, and 8/12-8/16)!  Limited spots are remaining in these sessions, but we’d love to have your child or children on board.  More information and registration can be accessed through our website.  Please check it out, consider signing up, and pass information along to friends who might also be interested!

P.S.:  Like everything else with parenting, our kids learn from what they see us do!  If you want to learn some of the same skills that we teach kids in our Mighty Minds program, sign up for our online parenting program:  How to Not Lose Your Sh*t With Your Kids! This program is low-cost, and low time commitment…  and no better time to do it than during the summer when you’re out of your usual routine and spending more time with your kids!  ?  For only $30, you get 30 days of a daily email, each of which includes a research-based strategy to help you better manage stress and big emotions.  We talk specifically about how to apply these strategies to difficult moments with your kids– but they’re skills that you can apply to any stressful, maddening, or anxiety-provoking situation in your life.  Each daily message also includes a summary of the key take-home message for days that you’re short on time, as well as resources we love for days on which you have more time/interest for a deeper dive.  And because the strategies apply to us as adults, they’re appropriate for you as a parent no matter how old your kids.  Sign up today, and choose any start date that works for you!

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