Updated: Sep 15, 2019

How adopting a growth mindset promotes resilience and success

Developing a growth mindset is one of the most beneficial assets when embarking on a secondary school journey. In fact, it is a mindset that will serve any human being at any stage of their life.

The concept of growth vs fixed mindsets stems from the work of Stanford psychologist, Carol Dweck. She explains that a growth mindset is where you focus on effort rather than success. Where you understand that intelligence is not fixed, and can be developed just like any other skill.

We see time and time again how damaging the perfectionist mindset can be on young people, and adults alike. If we can teach people at a young age to value effort, persistence and reflection rather than focusing heavily on high scores or good grades, then we are setting them up to be lifelong learners with healthy, resilient attitudes.

We want young people to feel pride and success through acknowledging their effort, persistence and ability to reflect for growth. This can be a challenge given that many schools and educational institutions focus heavily on outcomes, and communicate in levels or grades.

That's where parents can help

Make it known to your child that their grades or scores aren't the most important thing by focusing your discussion around the effort they apply rather than the score they achieve.

When results are pleasing, praise the effort

“I can see you worked really hard to prepare for this.”
“You must have listened well and maintained focus in class to develop such a good understanding.”
“All the effort you put into completing your classwork and revision has really paid off.”
“Your organisation and homework routine is obviously contributing to your success.”

Make the connection to self-care practices

“Going to bed on time obviously helped you maintain focus in class.”
“Eating all of those greens and vegetables must be supporting your brain to remember and learn new things.”
“Your mindfulness routine is clearly improving your focus in class.”
“I am sure those runs in the morning are having a positive impact on your learning.”

If we praise only the grades or scores, children will likely develop fixed mindset beliefs. If we call them ‘smart’, they don’t recognize the effort that enabled success, which leads to believing they succeed without needing to try. People with fixed mindsets often start to underperform in later years because they formed a belief they were just naturally intelligent, and so never developed the work ethic required for success at a higher level.

When things don’t go so well and a child sees disappointment in their parent or teacher's face, they are often exposed to feelings of unworthiness and may start to tell themselves that they are ‘dumb’ or not good at that particular subject. If we can remove the focus on the grade (as well as our disappointment), and direct them in a supportive way to reflect on the effort they have applied, they remain open to learning through ‘failure’.

Ask your child

“How did you prepare?”
“What did you learn?”
“What did you find difficult?
“What strategies did you use to overcome your challenges?”
“What could you do differently next time?”
“Were did you feel least confident and what would you like to revise?”
“What is a goal you can set moving forward?”

Through developing a habit of reflecting and making connections between effort and success, young people will learn to value their mistakes as opportunities to learn rather than believing they are a failure.

Know someone who would benefit from adopting a growth mindset?

METTA GIRLS offer workshops and coaching services that explore how to change your thinking habits and adopt a growth mindset.

We teach girls how to develop their awareness of thoughts, emotions and reactions so that they are better able to think and behave in ways that support them to thrive.



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