Imagine, constantly encountering new challenges. Imagine, embracing these challenges, working hard until you conquer and overcome each challenge. Imagine, never contemplating failure. Imagine, being open to trying, over and over again, until these challenges are conquered. To do all of this, people must have a growth mindset.
Fostering a growth mindset is a powerful way to cultivate a positive attitude, to be willing to learn how to learn. Being open to new ideas, to learning concepts and seeing different perspectives, involves having a growth mindset.
Encouraging children to have a growth mindset is exceptionally important, as it will help them to motivate during the most challenging of circumstances. Here are 5 ways to encourage children to have a growth mindset:
- Model kindness. One of the most important lessons that children can learn from adults is how to be kind. Being kind involves demonstrating concern for others and teaching children to understand and respect perspectives that are different from their own perspectives. Children can learn kindness at every age, and there are different, basic strategies that parents and teachers can use to model kindness. Look for opportunities to set examples for children, pointing out simple moments of kindness and providing children with perspectives on acts of kindness. By modeling kindness, parents and teachers can show children how to open their hearts and minds, to look for the possibility of problem solving, to find ways to change the world around them for the better.
- Teach Children that it is Okay to be Wrong. If children know that they can make mistakes, they will be more open to trying new things. In the process of making mistakes, children learn what works and what does not work. Children learn to courageously advance from their comfort zone into a learning zone. If children feel comfortable taking chances with the possibility of being wrong, they will also be open to finding ways to fix the problem. This creates a growth mindset.
- Teach Children Problem-Solving Skills. Rather than giving up when children get wrong answers, a growth mindset encourages children to find ways to solve problems. These problems don’t have to be academic challenges. These problems can include anything in their lives, from social challenges to time management issues. If children are open to problem solving, they can overcome countless obstacles in different aspects of their lives. Teach children to break down the ways that they choose to solve a problem. Did they make a list? Did they draw a picture of the problem? Did they try to associate words, thoughts, or emotions with the problem? If children are open to problem solving, they can overcome countless obstacles in different aspects of their lives.
- Encourage Children to Ask Questions. When children ask questions, they take control of what they are learning. They are no longer waiting for anyone else to drive their problem-solving process. This makes the process of learning more impactful. Children who ask questions tend to be more collaborative and engaged, recognizing and being able to pinpoint what they do and do not understand. Parents and teachers can encourage children to ask more questions by responding enthusiastically to every question asked, providing meaningful prompts and feedback, and modeling questions. Asking questions encourages a growth mindset, as children feel encouraged to understand and elaborate on new ideas.
- Enthusiastically Acknowledge Progress. When children feel encouraged, when children feel like they are acknowledged for accomplishing their goals, they are more likely to step out of their comfort zones. Not everything has to be perfect. Parents and teachers can celebrate small successes, like when children take calculated risks, whether they succeed or fail. Children respond to positive body language, eye contact, and role models who listen carefully to what they have to say, so how parents and teachers say things to children is as important as what they say. This means that parents and teachers can say something encouraging without providing blanket praise. When children feel supported they are more likely to flourish. By encouraging children to progress, parents and teachers are encouraging children to develop a growth mindset.
Creating an environment in which children can develop a growth mindset, parents and teachers can help cultivate more thoughtful, confident children who have a greater love of learning.
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