Teaching toddlers to have a growth mindset

December 27, 2021

Dr. Carol Dweck, a Stanford psychologist, identified two different types of mindsets (Yousefi & Khalkhali, 2020). A growth mindset is when we believe we can learn and grow by trying new things and using effective strategies to problem-solve when we hit a roadblock. It is the "can do" attitude that helps us believe in ourselves, confront challenges and view mistakes as part of learning. Research shows that kids with a growth mindset tend to be happier, more confident and are better able to regulate their emotions. They also tend to do much, much better in school because they believe in the power of their brain's ability to learn new things even when they are hard at first.Whereas a fixed mindset is when we believe we can't learn new things and our abilities cannot be developed. When we believe that we are born with the smarts and talents we have and that is that. It is the "I can't do it" attitude that views mistakes as failures and often leads to giving up. Kids stuck in a fixed mindset, often fear new experiences, avoid risks, and get frustrated easily. They lack confidence, perseverance and critical thinking skills.So how do we teach kids to have a growth mindset?

  • Embrace a growth mindset yourself and model it to your children. When you hit a setback, verbally talk through the process of how you accept your mistakes and problem-solve another solution.
  • Teach them about the neuroplasticity of their brain, which is a fancy term for their brain's ability to develop, change, and adapt (both structure and function) throughout their life in response to new experiences. You can work on our My Mindset Brain coloring sheet while you discuss how brains learn and grow.
  • Point out every time they use their growth mindset, and celebrate it with them. Your praise will be meaningful for them.
  • Give them empowering mantras to tell themselves and others to encourage a growth mindset. Having them internalize ideas like "I can do hard things", "mistakes are proof I am trying", and "my goal is progress not perfection" will help shape how they view the world and challenges they encounter. You can use our 10 Growth Mindset Mantra coloring pages to help. They also make great posters to keep around to remind the child.

Happy learning and growing!

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