American psychologist, Carol Dweck, discovered 30 years ago that what made students succeed at school was their attitude towards failure, not their intelligence or scores on their reports. After studying the behaviour of thousands of school-going children, Dweck coined the terms fixed mindset and growth mindset.
When we have a fixed mindset, we believe our failures define us, that we are not able to take on challenges. We engage in thoughts like: "I can't do this", "This is too hard", "I will never be good enough." When we have a growth mindset we understand that mistakes are opportunities to learn and grow; that progress is much more important than perfection.
Here are some ways in which you can support your child in cultivating a growth mindset:
When your child says: "I can't do this!" ask them to replace this thought with a more realistic thought: "I am finding this hard, but I am really good at something else."
When faced with failure, discuss with your child what they have learned from this failure and how they can take what they have learned into the future.
Support progress, not perfection: Notice comments you make about the way your child looks/ what they do: Instead of saying: "Your project looks perfect" rather say "I love how you have progressed in being able to make your own poster/ do your own research".
Do you think your child might need some more support in cultivating a growth mindset? Having them join my South African Chameleon Kids Club starting at the end of October is one way in which I can support your child in building that growth mindset.
Yours in progress, not perfection,