I recently read the book, Mindset, by Stanford University psychologist by Carol Dweck, who has spent decades researching what leads to achievement and success in sports, business, relationships and parenting.teaching kids a growth mindset

Her premise is that brains and talent don’t necessarily lead to success, which is not a new concept.

What was unique was her theory of how having a growth mindset is what leads to success.  What was exciting was that parents can cultivate, encourage and teach kids a growth mindset.

The scary takeaway was that we can actually stunt or get in the way of their success if we don’t.

Dweck believes every person starts with either a fixed or growth mindset, but it can be changed with the right encouragement.

In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are fixed traits. So that their talent and skills are what creates success.  The effort is not recognized.

In a growth mindset, people believe their abilities can be developed and honed through determination and hard work.  Their brains and talent are just the starting point. They love learning and develop resilience that is so important for any great accomplishments.

If our kids learn a growth mindset, it will help them create the motivation, self esteem and productivity to be successful in the worlds of business, education, and sports, as well as all their relationships.

I wanted to share what I learned to hopefully help you create a better relationship with your child and help support them in healthy ways.

1. What Messages Are You Sending?

Every word and action you say to your child sends an important message. Make sure to listen to yourself and the message you may be sending unconsciously.

“Are you pointing out what you think are their talents and abilities and judging if they are living up to their potential?”


“I see you growing and developing as a person and I am excited by what I see?”

2. How Do You Praise Your Child?

teaching growth mindsetResearch has show if you praise your child’s intelligence, talent or skills, it hurts their motivation and harms their performance.  I know you are saying WHAT???

Your kids may feel good at the moment, but if they make a mistake or fail their confidence is lost and they motivation disappears. They take it to mean if they are successful they are smart and if they fail they are dumb.

Instead of telling them they are brilliant, acknowledge them for the strategies they used to study and learn, solve the problem, how they kept at it and tried many different things until they mastered it.

You don’t want them to think you are proud of them for just their attributes like intelligence or talent, but for their efforts and achievements – how much work they put into something.

It is also important how you talk about them to other people. “She’s a genius” can be just as harmful as “He is a loser.”

When children hear judgment, it communicates they are good or bad if they act a certain way.

We want them to believe that skills and achievement come from effort and commitment not just the attributes they were born with.

3. How Do You Make A Child Feel Before A Test Or Performance?

teaching a growth mindsetReassuring children about their intelligence or talent to build their confidence will often backfire. What it does is make them afraid to mess up.

For example, “You got this. You are so smart. So stop worrying!” can actually create fear and worry.

Instead you could say, “ I see you studied or practice hard for the last few weeks. I am really proud that you worked hard and stuck with it.”

To be continued, click here to read the next installment…

I’d love to hear in the comments below…How have you been encouraging your kids?  With a fixed or growth mindset? Does this make sense?  It took me awhile to “get it” in a way I could start naturally using it.


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  1. Kate Morgan

    Without knowing it, I am happy to see that I have always treated my kids with a growth mindset! Inflated complements sounded so disingenuous so I never used them, but instead treated my 3 as though they knew that they were capable humans. I appreciate the perspective and different styles you brought to light.

    • Wendy Lynne

      You have very lucky kids. I had to really check in with myself to make sure I was not defaulting to the easy platitudes. Glad you got some value and assurance in your parenting!


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