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News in Youth Services

Monday, May 14, 2018

Having a Growth Mindset

We want our children to understand we love them and wish for them to develop the belief that they can prosper in life.  You may have been hearing lately about the growth mindset, either through your child's school or the media.  The growth mindset is a research-based belief discovered by Stanford Professor Carol Dweck, Ph.D., that will help children thrive.  Dr. Dweck has discovered there are two mindsets: growth and fixed.  The belief that our abilities can be developed, including our intelligence, is a growth mindset.  In contrast, a fixed mindset is a belief that abilities can't change, meaning people have a fixed intelligence and cannot improve.

Through observations of the world, children learn whether abilities are fixed or malleable.  If the adults around them have a fixed mindset, they will behave and communicate in a fixed-mindset way, such as shying away from challenges.  This type of behavior will encourage a fixed mindset in our children.  For example, when we think people are either smart or not, we may find ourselves praising our children for being smart, rather than for the effort or strategies that led them to success. 

Children observe and imitate us.  If we show an interest in learning and working hard, then our children will do the same.  Discuss the challenges you are taking on with your child, the mistakes you are making, the lessons you are learning, and your progress.

An easy way to encourage growth mindset is through engaging and purposeful picture books.  Below are a few examples of stories whose characters overcome obstacles and labels to develop extraordinary talents and capabilities.

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty

Rosie attempts to build a flying contraption for her aunt but it doesn't turn out quite like she plans.  She feels like a failure but learns that in life the only true failure is giving up.  This is a story of pursuing one's passion with perseverance.  

 Brave Irene by William Steig

Irene is a loyal young daughter of a dressmaker.  She must forge through a terrible storm to deliver her mother's work to the duchess.  During her trip, she must brave the howling wind, the frigid temperature and many dangerous obstacles in order to complete her mission.  This inspiring story teaches that with proper motivation, there are no age restrictions on accomplishing great things.   
 Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats

Young Willie longs to be able to whistle for his dog, but even though he tries and tries, he just cannot figure out how to do it.  The story follows Willie through his day, never giving up until finally his efforts are rewarded!

The growth mindset is for all of us, regardless of our age.  It's a positive outlook on life that reminds us that making mistakes is part of learning and help us overcome challenges.  If you'd like to learn more about the growth mindset, please come in and check out our several resources on the subject in our parent sections.

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