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Nurturing A Growth Mindset

Did you know that praise can be bad for kids?

Not all kinds praise, mind you, but praise that labels a child as smart rather than a hard worker. The former reinforces a fixed mindset, which can stunt us from further growth if we believe that we have static intelligence, talent or personality traits.

Children given praise such as “good job, you’re very smart” are much more likely to develop a fixed mindset, whereas if they are given compliments like “good job, you worked very hard” they are likely to develop a growth mindset.

“Mindsets frame the running account that’s taking place in people’s heads. They guide the whole interpretation process. The fixed mindset creates an internal monologue that is focused on judging: “This means I’m a loser.” “This means I’m a better person than they are.” “This means I’m a bad husband.” “This means my partner is selfish.”

“People with a growth mindset are also constantly monitoring what’s going on, but their internal monologue is not about judging themselves and others in this way. Certainly they’re sensitive to positive and negative information, but they’re attuned to its implications for learning and constructive action: What can I learn from this? How can I improve? How can I help my partner do this better?

In Carol Dweck’s ,2007 book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, she defines these two mindsets:

Fixed Mindset – Some people believe their success is based on innate ability (intelligence and talent) more than hard work and perseverance. Fixed-mindset individuals dread failure because it is a negative statement on their basic abilities.

Growth Mindset – Others who believe their success is based on hard work, learning, training and doggedness are are said to have a “growth” or an “incremental” theory of intelligence. Growth mindset individuals don’t mind or fear failure as much because they realize their performance can be improved and learning comes from failure. Growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. Having a growth mindset will allow a person to live a less stressful and more successful life – they are more likely to be resilient and persist despite failure.

As this poster shows, people who have a growth mindset and believe intelligence can be developed have a desire to learn, embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, see effort as the path to mastery, learn from criticism and find lessons and inspiration in the success of others. As a result, they reach ever higher levels of achievement, which gives them a greater sense of free will.

Brainpickings has an excellent article on the subject of these mindsets. I know you are probably curious and thinking about reading the book, learning more and willing to put in the effort to grow your mind.