“I can’t read this. The activity is too hard.”
“’ I haven’t learned how to read this yet. I need more time to do the activity.”
Which one of the two statements is your child likely to say? When faced with a challenge, what kind of mindset does your child display?
Extensive studies have been conducted on children as young as four years old, and two different types of mindsets have been identified: Growth mindset which fosters motivation, resilience, and persistence; and fixed mindset which limits the child’s capabilities and potential.
Our mindset determines how we face challenges and setbacks. People with a growth or can-do mindset believe their abilities will improve over time, and they can achieve anything that they set their minds to. On the other hand, people with a fixed mindset think their abilities are unchangeable, no matter how hard they try, and so they give up quickly.
In the above example, even though the activity is hard, the second statement shows a child who recognizes it may not always be that hard. So long as children say they have difficulty doing something but are willing to keep working at it, that’s a growth mindset.
Research shows that developing the right mindset at an early age is essential for a happy and successful life. This means teaching young children to learn from their experience and come up with new ways to improve. It means teaching children to believe that even if they encounter setbacks, they can still succeed. With a growth mindset, children are confident, resilient, and not afraid to fall. They are far less likely to say, “I can’t do this, I don’t want to do it anymore.”
At GUG Preschool, we advocate a balance of guided and self-discovery, supported by multi-sensorial learning strategies. In this way, children feel comfortable knowing that there are different ways for them to explore and acquire knowledge. They develop a passion for learning, a willingness to take on challenges, and to see failures as part of their journey to success. Altogether, these create a springboard for growth.
Here are 3 ways that you can nurture a growth mindset in your child:
- Encourage Persistence
Persistence is all about working hard despite disappointment or failure. When we allow our kids to fail, we teach them to persist and keep trying, even if it takes days, months or years to succeed. If your child is working on a puzzle or trying to zip up his jacket and you see him struggling, try not to step in immediately. Giving your child time to work through difficult tasks will help build his perseverance.
- Build Confidence
Children with fixed mindsets believe that if they cannot achieve something, it’s because they are not good enough, creative enough or smart enough. “Process praise” is the most helpful type of praise for boosting confidence and promoting a growth mindset. This means praising the hard work and effort that your child took to get to the end result, and not on how well she succeeded. For example, you can praise the way your child added details to her artwork, or you can say “I like the way you tried all kinds of ways to solve that puzzle.”
- Embrace challenges
It is quite common that people with fixed mindsets choose easy tasks over challenging ones, which leaves limited room to learn and grow. Learning is all about starting at the edge of our capabilities and pushing beyond them. However, this will also mean falling and getting stuck at times. By outwardly embracing challenges, you will help your children develop growth mindsets as they learn to regard challenges as opportunities for them to learn, rather than obstructions that hinder success. Over time, they will be unfazed as they take on even more complex challenges.
At GUG Preschool, one of the values we hold close to our hearts, is teaching children how to learn with courage. We know that this is not easy for young children. When everything you encounter is new, everything that you do will require some degree of bravery into unchartered territories. We believe courage is the key that can help unlock a child’s willingness to learn and to grow. As an established education brand of 20 years, we inspire courage in children so they are unafraid to push beyond fears and limitations, and go on to pursue their highest potential.
Intelligence is not fixed and can be flourished over time, with the appropriate effort and support. Nurturing this growth belief is one of the greatest things that we can do to encourage our children to willingly persevere, reach for their goals and achieve successes in life. The effort will come from them but it is important that as parents, we do what we can to help them believe that the effort will be worth it.