Growth Mindset

  • What is Growth Mindset?

    “In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that's that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb.

    In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don't necessarily think everyone's the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it,” (Carol Dweck, 2012).

    “If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning” (Dweck, 2006).


    How to Encourage Students to Meet their Full Potential

    Try these strategies to move your child from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset:

    - Remind kids that to FAIL is just a first attempt in learning.

    - Have your child take a risk and let them learn something new, even if they fail.

    - Acknowledge your child’s hard work. Remind them of the hard work that led them to their successes rather than telling them how smart they are.

    - Use words like, “innovation,” “creativity,” and “growth.”

    - Create opportunities for your child to practice growth mindset activities.

    - Comment on work ethic rather than a grade.


    How to Help your Child


    Ask your child what mistakes they made and what they learned from it.


    Praise effort, goal setting, persisting through challenges, or being creative. “Wow! You must have worked really hard on this!”


    Your intelligence is not fixed. When things are difficult, your brain will grow if you work through the challenge.


    The way you talk to your child and the way they talk to themselves makes a huge impact on their mindset. “I can’t do this!” needs changed into, “I can’t do this YET.” Help them find the words to say by changing your words.


    Mistakes help us learn. Mistakes make your brain grow. Let your child fail so that they can learn to see challenges as fun.


    Praise vs. Encouragement



    “You did a great job!”                               

    “You tried your best.”

    “You did that so fast.”

    “See, I told you that would be easy—you’re smart!” 

    “ Nice job, you got an A without even trying.

    “I’m so proud of you.”

    “You’re so athletic. You could be the next…....”

    “It’s good enough.”

    “You always get good grades, that makes me happy.”



    “I noticed the effort you put into that project.”

    “You haven’t learned how to do these problems YET.”

    “The point isn’t to get it all right away. The point is to grow your understanding. What can you try next?”

    “This work must be too easy for you. Let’s do something to make your brain grow.”

    “I like the way you tried all kinds of strategies on that math problem until you finally got it.”

    “I like the effort you put in. Let’s work together some more and figure out what you don’t understand.”



    - Dweck, C. S. (2006) Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York, New York: Ballantine Books.

    - Gardner, S. (n.d.). Growth Mindset Parent Handout. Retrieved from http:// files/2015/12/GrowthMindsetFREEBIE1.pdf

    - Ricci, M.C., & Lee, M. (2016) Mindsets for Parents: Strategies to Encourage Growth Mindsets in Kids. Naperville, Illinois: Prufrock Press.

    - Tough, Paul. How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiousity, and the Hidden Power of Character. Wikipedia. Retrieved Feb 18, 2016, from Carol_Dweck


    Books for Kids

    - Your Fantastic Elastic Brain by JoAnn Deak. Little Pickle Press, 2010.  The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Mark Pett. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2011.  Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg. Workman Publishing Company, 2010.

    - The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires. Kids Can Press, 2014.