Turning a fixed mindset into a growth mindset is not always as easy task. A wise principal here in town once said to me: “In order for a child to adopt a new strategy, it has to work better that the one they are currently using” and this is so very true. If you notice your child has a fixed mindset about something, it’s important to find chances for a growth mindset to work better than their fixed mindset.
This is a 2-step process:
Step 1: Pay attention – Notice what your child gets from their fixed mindset. Maybe its you trying to make them feel better by repeating the opposite message, i.e.: of course you’re good at math, you’re very smart, etc. Or maybe they just get to give up easily on their struggles, i.e.: soccer’s just not your thing.
Short term avoidance or ego boosting may make them feel better in the short term but won’t build growth mindset, a critical skill they will need for success later in life. Remember the replacement strategy has to work better so try to weed out all the times you accidentally reinforce their fixed mindset.
Step 2: Feed their growth mindset – Look for specific chances for them to use a growth mindset and refocus your parenting power on those wins instead. For a child struggling with a subject, break it down into small attainable bits and very specific goals that, with effort, will improve. Recognise your child for the effort put in to achieve the outcome. Remind them that a fixed mindset keeps you stuck in one spot, while using a growth mindset helps your brain get stronger – like exercise!
The changes won’t happen overnight, but the more times the new strategy works, the more likely it is that your child will replace the old, less effective one with the new and more successful option. What we feed will grow, so feed your attention to the mindset you want to be strong in your child’s brain.
See our kick-off post for this month here to read a review of what fixed versus growth mindset behaviour is.