A parent's guide to encouraging a growth mindset for kids

A parent's guide to encouraging a growth mindset for kids

In the education and parenting world ‘growth mindset’ has become a common buzzword! In fact, it’s a concept worth encouraging with kids as it’s a key life skill that will help them with resilience, academic achievement, financial education and more.

What is a growth mindset for kids?

Growth mindset is the theory developed by Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford University and the author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success; Dweck's theory is that people have two fundamental beliefs about intelligence:


  • A fixed mindset is where people believe that their intelligence is fixed and cannot be changed. They may believe that they are either smart or they're not and that there is nothing they can do to change that.

  • A growth mindset is where people believe their intelligence can be developed through effort and hard work. They may believe they are not as bright as they could be but can become more intelligent through practice and learning.



Practical tips for parents to encourage a growth mindset in kids

To nurture a growth mindset in your kids:

  • Help them set challenging goals, whether that's to try something new, learn a new skill or start their own business.

  • Show them they should never be afraid to fail. When discussing things not going right with your child, explain that failure is a part of life and how we learn and grow.

  • Help them move on from mistakes: When they make a mistake, encourage them not to dwell on it. Instead, figure out what they can learn from it.

  • Praise their effort. Praise them for their effort when you see them trying and working hard. This will help them see that effort is important and can lead to success.

  • Encourage them to ask for help. Show your child that it's okay not to know everything and that asking questions is how to work things out.

  • Experiment with different strategies. Help your child learn to be a problem solver and experiment with different approaches. For example, instead of asking, "How do you solve this puzzle?" you could ask, "What are some different ways to solve this puzzle?"

Growth mindset activities for kids

Try these activities to help support your child's learning.

  1. The Growth Mindset Game: This is a simple game you can play with your child to help them understand the difference between a fixed and a growth mindset. The game involves drawing two circles on a piece of paper, one for a fixed mindset and one for a growth mindset. Then, you can write examples of fixed and growth mindset thinking in each circle. For example, fixed mindset thinking might include "I'm just not good at maths" or "I'm not creative." Growth mindset thinking might include "I can get better at maths with practice" or "I can be creative if I try new things."


  1. The Growth Mindset Jigsaw Puzzle: This is a fun activity that you can do with your child to help them learn about the different aspects of a growth mindset. The puzzle comprises different pieces, each representing a different aspect of a growth mindset, such as effort, perseverance, and learning from mistakes. As your child puts the puzzle together, you can talk about each aspect of a growth mindset and how it can help your child succeed.


  1. The Growth Mindset Role-Play: You can do this with your child to help them practise using growth mindset language. In the role-play, you can take on the role of someone with a fixed mindset, and your child can take on the role of someone with a growth mindset. You can then have a conversation about a challenging situation and see how the two different mindsets approach the situation.


  1. The Growth Mindset Book Club: You can do this with your child to help them learn about growth mindset from books. You can choose books that specifically address growth mindset or books that feature characters who demonstrate growth mindset qualities. As you read the books together, you can talk about the different examples of growth mindsets you see.


  1. The Growth Mindset Quote Challenge: This is a good one that you can do with older kids and teens to help them practise using growth mindset language. The challenge involves finding quotes that demonstrate growth mindset qualities. You can find quotes online, in books, movies, and TV shows. Once you have found some quotes, you can share them with your child and discuss why they demonstrate a growth mindset. You can also ask your child to come up with their own quotes that demonstrate a growth mindset.


Related: Life skills activities to help your child succeed


Benefits of a growth mindset for your child

A growing body of research supports Dweck’s studies that students with a growth mindset were likelier to succeed in school and their careers than students with a fixed mindset. Yet, the benefits of a growth mindset are broader than just academic and career success.


People with a growth mindset are also more likely to be happy and satisfied with their lives. They are more likely to have positive relationships and to be engaged in their communities. Studies from China and Canada show this and the benefits of a growth mindset to student stress levels and better mental health. 


Another study by Yeager and colleagues (2019) found that students with a growth mindset were more likely to persist in the face of challenges, have resilience and achieve their goals than students with a fixed mindset. The study was conducted with secondary school students and found that those with a growth mindset were more likely to set challenging goals for themselves, persist in the face of setbacks, and learn from their mistakes. 


Alongside the above, children with a growth mindset are more likely to have the following: 

  • Better motivation: Children are more motivated to learn and achieve. They are more likely to set challenging goals for themselves and persist in the face of challenges.

  • Increased creativity: Children are more likely to take risks and try new things. They are also more likely to see problems as opportunities for learning and growth.

  • Better problem-solving skills: Children are more likely to think flexibly and come up with creative solutions to problems.

  • Stronger self-esteem: Children believe they can learn and grow and are more likely to be confident in their abilities.

  • Happier and more satisfied: Children with a growth mindset are often happier and more satisfied with their lives. 

  • Better equipped for the future: The world is constantly changing, and children with a growth mindset are better equipped to deal with change. They are more likely to be adaptable and to be able to learn new things.


Overcoming challenges & dealing with a fixed mindset

A growth mindset is now such a big buzzword in schools; some kids find it off-putting or don’t believe in it. If this is your child, there are a few things you can do to help your child overcome challenges and deal with a fixed mindset:


  • Show them that a growth mindset works. If it hasn’t been working for your child, the chances are it hasn’t been explained to them properly. A growth mindset is not simply about effort and hard work but problem-solving as they go. For example, if they try really hard at maths but still can’t do it, who can they ask for help? What strategies could they try that might help them?

  • Help your child to identify their strengths and weaknesses. Doing this will help them to understand that everyone has things they can’t do and that failure is not always a sign of weakness.

  • Help your child to develop a plan for overcoming their fear of failure. This could include setting small goals, practising positive self-talk, or seeking help from a teacher in class.

  • Get to the root of why your child feels they can’t do something. Is it a message they have picked up from others? What is the result of not seeing progress despite their effort?

  • Deal with their negative experiences. If children have been heavily criticised or told that they are not smart, they will be less likely to give a growth mindset a try as they don’t believe in themselves.

  • Show them that setbacks and feedback aren’t about their abilities but information they can use to help themselves learn. 

Are there any downsides to kids having a growth mindset?

The only downside to a growth mindset in kids is when the concept hasn't been explained to them fully. 


Having a growth mindset is about more than just putting in the effort. Effort is key to achievement, but it's not the only thing that helps children learn. For information to stick, kids need to try new strategies and get input from others when they're stuck. They need to be able to do all of this to learn and improve.


This means encouraging your child to ask for help and accept advice. Not all kids love this idea, fearing it shows they can't do things, but encouraging your child to do this is an important part of their development. 


What helps is to show your child that:


  • It's okay not to know everything; there's nothing wrong with asking for assistance.

  • Praise your child when they do ask for help or accept advice. 

  • Make sure your child knows that you're there for them. 

  • Help your child to identify potential helpers. 

  • Ensure your child knows it's okay to make mistakes or not understand things.

How can GoHenry help?

One area that a growth mindset will help with is your child’s financial education. Though research shows that children can understand and grasp money habits from the age of seven, learning how to become financially literate takes a range of strategies and the ability to learn from your mistakes.


A GoHenry kids’ debit card  can help cement the money lessons you teach your kids  by showing them the benefits of pocket money, budgeting, saving and how to spend sensibly. The GoHenry app also features Money Missions, allowing kids  to earn points while watching videos and taking interactive quizzes on topics including saving money and spending wisely. The app is designed to be used alongside our prepaid debit card.






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Written by Anita Naik Published Sep 4, 2023 ● 6 min. read