Have you heard the terms ‘fixed‘ vs ‘growth‘ mindset? I found this topic life-changing when I looked into it! It challenged me to evaluate and work on my own mindset. In this post, I’ll share what exactly a growth mindset is, why it’s so important for kids, and 11 powerful kids’ books for teaching a growth mindset to your children.
These terms are used by Dr. Carol Dweck in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. This is an absolutely fantastic book that everybody should own!
So what exactly is a ‘growth’ or ‘fixed’ mindset?
She explains a ‘FIXED MINDSET‘ to be a mindset where one believes that their traits and qualities are fixed and unchangeable. That intelligence, for example, is something you are born with. People with this mindset are more closed to learning opportunities and instead focus on documenting and finding proof to reinforce their belief about their abilities.
A ‘GROWTH MINDSET’ is the opposite. People that have a growth mindset see their qualities and traits as things that can be developed. With hard work and persistence, you can learn new things. Every skill or trait can be improved.
Dr. Dweck has done lots of research on the impact of these mindsets, especially on children.
What she found was that children with a fixed mindset were less able to take risks or admit mistakes. They were quicker to give up and found less love in the whole learning process!
Children with a growth mindset showed were more able to take risks because they knew that a setback was not a failure. They had more resilience and were better at problem-solving. They didn’t fear failure and as a result they found much more enjoyment in the learning process.
This is such massive difference! You might be wondering what you can do as a parent to teach a growth mindset.
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HOW CAN PARENTS TEACH A GROWTH MINDSET?
It won’t surprise you that it’s parents and teachers that have a massive impact on the type of mindset your child has.
You can help your child to have a ‘growth’ mindset by using these strategies.
- BE CAREFUL WITH PRAISE: ‘You’re really smart‘ sounds like a great compliment to give your child. But, in reality, this could encourage them to have a fixed mindset– they are either smart or they’re not. In the future, they want to demonstrate to you that ARE smart. But this can make them scared to fail and, therefore, scared to take risks and try. They don’t want to risk looking NOT smart because this is what you care about and have approved in them.
- PRAISE THE PROCESS, NOT THE RESULT: Instead, try praising your children for the skills they show in the process of completing a task. Praise their hard work, their persistence and their focus. This shows your child that you value these traits in them- the end result isn’t the important thing. When you praise in this way, you are giving your child permission to have setbacks. They will continue to show persistence, hard work and focus and maybe even more importantly, continue to enjoy the activity. This resilience and love of learning is what is most important for achievement!
- THE POWER OF YET: Dr. Carol Dweck shares how ‘yet’ is a crucial word. When your child is disheartened or says they ‘can’t do it!’ simply add the word ‘yet.’ When you model this mindset for your child, it will stick. So, instead of ‘I can’t do this equation therefore it’s too hard and I’ll give up.’ It becomes ‘I can’t do this equation YET so I’ll keep trying. I know I’ll get there.’ What a massive difference!
- Remember that a growth mindset applies to all skills, including sports, creativity and even social skills such as sharing and showing patience or kindness.
11 POWERFUL KIDS’ BOOKS FOR TEACHING A GROWTH MINDSET
Books are another powerful resource for teaching kids. Lots of books have been written to teach a growth mindset. These show how characters can achieve when they have a growth mindset. They are filled with internal scripts that help kids with their thought processes in solving a problem.
I’d definitely recommend reading them with your child. This way you can have a conversation about the book and reinforce a growth mindset even more. Also, in everyday life you can refer back to the books.
It might be along the lines of, ‘remember when this character had a problem? Do you remember what he told himself? That helped him feel better about the problem, didn’t it?’
Here are 11 of my favorites.
The Most Magnificent Thing is an incredible story about a girl who is going to make a Most Magnificent Thing. It turns out to be harder than she thought and she fails over and over again. Eventually she gets so mad that she quits. But she has a break and takes a walk, and when she comes back with a new enthusiasm, she manages to get it just right. The story offers good options for dealing honestly with the feeling of being mad when you can’t do something and even wanting to quit, while at the same time reassuring children that it’s okay to make mistakes.
The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes is about a girl who, yep you guessed it, never makes mistakes! Of course, one day she finally makes a huge mistake- in front of the whole town. The book is very clever in teaching the life lesson that things are more fun when you enjoy everything- even the mistakes. This is such a fantastic book to teach kids a growth mindset and in particular to develop resilience.
I Can’t Do That Yet is part of a Growth Mindset series of books. The others in the series are worth reading, too. This book specifically reinforces ‘The Power of Yet‘ strategy that I mentioned earlier. The girl in this story shifts from a position of not believing in herself and always saying, ‘I can’t do that,’ to realizing that with time, knowledge and dedication she will get there and learning to say, ‘I can’t do that yet‘ instead.
Beautiful Oops teaches the vital life lesson that it is OK to make a mistake! The book encourages young readers to think about mistakes differently- as an opportunity to make something beautiful! The book is filled with pop-ups, lift-the-flaps, tears, holes, overlays, bends, smudges, and even an accordion “telescope”—each demonstrating the magical transformation from blunder to wonder.
My Strong Mind is part of a Positive Mindset Series. The girl in the story uses her strong mind and positive attitude to tackle her daily challenges. Her situations and challenges are extremely relatable and she uses specific techniques. The book is extremely clever about teaching these tips to readers by presenting them through the main character in a fun, positive and practical way. This book is very specific about teaching confidence, resilience and a growth mindset.
Only One You is a very inspirational book about your uniqueness in life. It encourages young readers to make the world a better place and shares life wisdom. The rock-illustrations are different but very beautiful.
Your Fantastic Elastic Brain is one of the very best kids’ books for teaching a growth mindset and has won several awards. The books teaches kids that your brain is elastic and can learn and grow with exercise. It teaches kids that making mistakes is one of the best ways your brain can learn. It’s an amazing book for teaching resilience and giving kids’ confidence and a love of learning.
Thanks for the Feedback is a story about his boy going about his day doing the things he loves. He receives both positive and negative feedback from his friend, teachers and parents. He is given compliments but also told things he needs to work on. His first reaction is to argue and make excuses but through the story he learns to accept feedback and respond in the right way. The books also has tips for parents.
What You Do With A Problem is a New York Times best selling book that deals with problems and how to deal with him. In the book, the boy has a persistent problem that seems to get bigger the more he ignores and avoids it. When he finally faces his problem, it turns out to be something different that what it appeared.
The Koala Who Could is about a koala who hates change. He likes every day to be exactly the same. When change does come, we learn how the koala faces it and the joy he finds in trying something new.
Giraffes Can’t Dance is a bestselling book with a lovely story of a giraffe who only wants to dance. However, he faces some major obstacles with his long legs and knobbly knees. Luckily the giraffe receives the encouragement he needs. This story will inspire young readers to pursue their dreams.
AND THAT’S IT!
I hope you find some inspiration and help in these kids’ books for teaching a growth mindset to your children. It might seem like a small thing, but a growth mindset can help your kids take risks, not be scared of failure, and enjoy learning more.
A growth mindset is a key part of setting your kids up for academic and social success.
And remember that a Growth Mindset is not just for kids. Learn how a growth mindset can help you improve your life as an adult!
You might also enjoy:
- 15 Best Parenting Books for Dads that will Inform, Amuse and Inspire
- 11 Incredible Children’s Books That Teach Positive Behavior
- How to Praise Your Child So They Succeed in Life
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