Building a Growth Mindset through play - 3 Easy Ways

What is a Growth Mindset and why is it important?

Children with a growth mindset, as opposed to a fixed mindset, believe that their abilities and capabilities will improve over time, and are willing to put in effort to develop their skills, intelligence and abilities. Those with fixed mindsets think that intelligence is fixed and they will not improve no matter how much they try. 

It follows that cultivating a growth mindset is important - to foster motivation, resilience. Studies also show that children, or people with growth mindsets are happier and more successful. 

What kind of mindset does your child have?

"I don't want to _______ because I am not good at it."

Is this something that you often hear? This is a statement which could reflect a fixed mindset.  Do they give up halfway while trying to complete a challenging task, say, building a tower? or do they automatically choose the easier task when faced with two options?

Your reaction to mistakes and setbacks play a part in your child's mindset development.  Since our young ones spend a lot of time playing, playtime provides plenty of opportunities for parents to nurture a growth mindset. Here are 3 easy ways. 

1) Teach them about how the brain works

Just like the muscles on our bodies, our brain is like a muscle that "grows stronger" and gets better when we use it. For a more visual example, show them the picture of a body builder - when they lift weights, their muscles get bigger and stronger. This goes for the brain as well! By practising, our brains are actually forming new pathways and connections that will make it easier for us the next time!

2) Praise the process

Instead of saying "well done!", "good job!", be specific with praise. When your child finds difficulty in say, putting together the model of a toy submarine,

Say: " I can see that you are trying very hard to put the submarine together!"

"I can see that you experimented with different ways to _______, that's a good idea!

This reduces emphasis on the outcome and focuses hard work and persistence - important life skills for a resilient youth. 

When something is done easily, refrain from saying: "Clever boy/girl!" If success means that they are clever, then failure automatically means that they aren't. Once children believe this, it leads to a downward spiral, where they lose confidence in other tasks, wear down their motivation and love for learning. 

3) Add the magical word

"I can't ______." It breaks our hearts to hear this coming from children. When completing a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle for example, your child may be tempted to give up halfway. Teach your child to add the magical word yet to the end of those sentences. 

Say, "You can't ____ YET. Let's take it one step at a time."

It is a powerful word and when you do it often enough, they learn to do it themselves. The meaning of the sentence changes drastically and introduces a forward looking perspective. 

As parents, what we say have an impact on our little ones (sometimes, even bigger than we realise). Empower them to fail, and try again. Try these out and let us know how it goes!

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