Creating a good foundation for a growth mindset in children and teens

What do we mean by “a Growth Mindset?”

Growth mindset refers to how we face setbacks and challenges. There are lots of ways we can help our children have a growth mindset, but first let us look at the two different children – one with a growth mindset and the other without.

Johnny is a hard-working little chap. He loves school and he is interested in learning. Sometimes he has set-backs but he says “Oh its Ok, I’ll get it soon! I’ll just keep trying! “

Lucy is a shy little girl. She doesn’t have a lot of self – confidence. When she tries to do something, at the first sign of a struggle, she becomes negative and gives up saying “I CAN’T do it! I’ll NEVER be able to do it! There’s no point in even TRYING!”

So, you can see, Johnny has a growth mindset because he believes that if he perseveres, he WILL be able to do it. On the other hand, Lucy has a fixed mindset. She strongly believes that she will never be able to do it, she feels that no matter how hard she tries, she will fail.

Think of a child who has a fixed mindset about Math. She feels she is

useless at math”. She gets low marks in her tests, and her mum or dad may comment that “Lucy is not very good at math”. An innocent remark but this has just confirmed to Lucy that she is “not good at math”. She now has a fixed mindset. However, had her mum said: “Maybe you are not good at math YET Lucy, but with a little bit of practice and revision – you soon will be.”

A Growth Mindset is invaluable to children with learning difficulties;

For children who are perhaps struggling with ADHD or other learning difficulties, having a growth mindset can be very beneficial and can help parents and teachers reframe how the child can approach challenges.

The biggest part of having a growth mindset is not letting failing at something stop you from working to improve. It’s important for your child to know that setbacks can be useful to get a better result!  Make sure your child feels comfortable telling you or the teacher when something doesn’t seem to be working and they are struggling. Reassure him that he can ask for help from the people around him, whether it be teachers, parents or grandparents.

The child also needs to know that the people around him believe he can find ways to fix mistakes. Your natural response may be to reassure your child by saying something like, “Don’t worry about it. Maybe math just isn’t your thing!” That reaction can promote a fixed mindset, and It teaches him that Math is something he can’t improve at, no matter how hard he tries.

It would be much better to discuss what to do next. Talk about what your child learned from the experience. For instance, you might say, “How would you revise differently next time? Would it help to have a chat with your teacher about breaking the work down into chunks?”

Developing a growth mindset is an ongoing process. Taking feedback from others, learning from mistakes and finding different ways to approach tasks isn’t easy. But it’s a very positive way to help your child learn that his talents canbe developed, and he can be successful.

Growth Mindset Quotes

There are some amazing motivational quotes for growth mindset – it would be a great idea for all parents to choose a quote once a week/fortnight and have it written up on the kitchen wall at home (teachers can do the same in class) quotes such as:

  • “If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you, but if you are determined to learn no one can STOP you!”
  • “No one fails – until they stop trying!”
  • “The best way to treat obstacles is to use them as stepping-stones. Laugh at them, tread on them, and let them lead you to something better.”

Take time to discuss the growth mindset quote with your child:

Whether its over a dinner in the evening or just sitting playing with the child – bring up the quote (there’s always an opportunity!) and discuss it with them – ask the child to think of a time when he’s come across obstacles and maybe if he had used them as stepping stones would he have had a different outcome? Giving praise to a child is the key factor in the way youngsters approach a challenge with a growth mindset. If you talk with your child about what he learned from experiences, you will find out so much and be able to reassure him. Ask questions like, “How would you study differently next time?” But more than anything – give your child “time”.

Can therapy help a child have a growth mindset?

Yes! A few sessions of paediatric Hypnotherapy or NLP would certainly give the child a good start! Hypnosis is all about helping the subconscious mind to be more positive. If you’d like to learn more then contact me via email at or give me a call on 0203 888 7173.

Thanks to Samuel Zeller on Unsplash for the image!

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