Jennifer Hector, MA, LMFT
As children grow into adulthood, what underlies their capacity to successfully navigate their daily lives with all the ups and downs?
What traits allow them to bounce back from adversity and carry on with continued belief in themselves and the world around them?
One trait that stands out is having a “growth mindset.” Through her research, Carol Dweck, Stanford University Psychologist and Professor and pioneer in the field of motivation, discovered that how we think about our abilities impacts the outcome of our actions and performance.
The basic model of this theory of mindset is explained as a continuum of beliefs about ability- on one end of the continuum there is the belief that abilities are innate, a fixed quantity; you’ve been dealt your hand, now live with it and make accommodations as needed for dealing with it (fixed mindset).
The other end of the spectrum is the belief that ability and talents can be learned and developed throughout one’s lifetime through effort and persistence (growth mindset). In this model, one’s experience of success is determined by how they understand their self in relation to their efforts.
Fostering a growth mindset in our children goes along way in helping them to achieve a lifetime filled with experiences of success. When parents praise for effort vs. product, and see mistakes and failures as opportunities of learning vs. disappointments and proclamations of worth, parents and kids plant seeds of self-esteem, self-awareness, and implicit potential that grow and blossom into a positive outlook on weathering the process of daily living and becoming an adult.
Cut the roots of perfectionism before they begin to dig deep (fixed mindset). Encourage success through acknowledging the qualities your children exhibit in their efforts vs. quantities and values. They have a lifetime to develop themselves start now in helping them make it an experience of expansion and discovery.
For more information on Carol Dweck and mindset, check out:
- Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Random House.
- Dweck, C. S. (2012). Mindset: How you can fulfill your potential. Constable & Robinson Limited.