How To Teach Your Child To Have A Growth Mindset?

Encouraging the development of a growth mindset can help children strongly believe in themselves.

Reviewed by Sadhvi Nishtha Om, MSc Sadhvi Nishtha Om Sadhvi Nishtha OmMSc Specialty: Clinical Psychology, Psychotherapy and Motivational CounsellingExperience: 10 years
Written by Manjari Srivastava
Last Updated on

A growth mindset for kids enables them to believe in themselves and their abilities. Children with a growth mindset trust themselves to achieve their dreams and improve their intelligence through strategic hard work, efforts, and experience. Children who think opposite to it have a fixed mindset (1).

Some children may be gifted with natural excellence and abilities, but most gradually develop these skills with continuous perseverance and determination. Therefore, inculcate a growth mindset in your children so that they can work towards their dream with full potential. A child with a growth mindset can have an optimistic approach and face their problems head-on (2).

This post will help you understand the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset and provide some tips to introduce a growth mindset to your children.

Fixed Mindset Vs. Growth Mindset

Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck posited the concept of growth mindset in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success in the mid-2000s. It has gained much popularity over the years, and like most profound ideas, it has also been misunderstood by many. Let’s understand what it means in this section.

According to Carol Dweck, the way we view ourselves affects the way we lead our lives. When someone believes that their qualities, intelligence, and talents can be developed through hard work and perseverance, they have a growth mindset. People with this mindset are known to achieve more than those with a fixed mindset, that is, those who believe that talents and intelligence are innate gifts (3).

A child who grows up to adopt a fixed mindset may fail to groom or improve themselves, believing no amount of hard work can change their state (4).

Children who develop a fixed mindset tend to show the following characteristics (3) (5).

  • Avoid challenges
  • Give up easily
  • Do not make efforts
  • Avoid criticism and feedback and do not use them constructively
  • Feel threatened by others’ success
  • Fear failure
  • Consider themselves “stupid,” “dumb,” “slow,” etc.

Children with a fixed mindset tend to plateau out early, even before their full potential is realized, and have a deterministic view of the world (3) (5).

On the other hand, children with a growth mindset display the following characteristics (3).

  • Have a strong desire to learn
  • Have the resilience to persist in challenging situations
  • Do not shy away from challenges
  • Take feedback and criticism constructively
  • View others’ success as an inspiration

Due to the above characteristics, children with a growth mindset continue to strive and achieve more. They also develop a sense of free will as opposed to the deterministic view of the world seen in children with a fixed mindset (3).

20+ Ways To Develop A Growth Mindset In Children

Parents try their best to make their children strong, fearless, and confident. A great way to begin this endeavor is by helping them develop a growth mindset.

To do so, parents must focus on their children’s strengths but not entirely ignore their weaknesses. Here are some practical ways in which you can help your children develop a growth mindset (2) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10).

1. Explain how the brain works

Research has proven that learning creates new connections in the human brain. Teaching children how the brain works and forms new connections when they develop new skills or learn something new can be exciting for them. It can motivate them to develop a growth mindset.

2. Acquaint them with the concept of the two mindsets

It helps to teach a growing child about the two types of mindsets and how they differ. You could explain these concepts to them using videos, stories, and activities. Ingrain in them the fact that intelligence and talent can be developed.

3. Explain your struggles

Explain to your children how struggles, hardships, and challenges appear in everyone’s life, but the winner stays on and fights through them. To help your children develop a growth mindset, lead by example. Explain the struggles that you faced or mistakes that you made and how you overcame or corrected them.

4. Avoid negative words

Children must be taught how to avoid negative words such as “can’t,” “won’t,” “impossible,” “hard,” and “undoable.” These words can create a pessimistic mind frame in them. To instill a growth mindset in your child, replace these negative words with encouraging words and phrases such as “I can do this, and I am learning how to” and“This is challenging yet fun, and I have learned so much from it.”

5. Be a good role model

Children are observant and imbibe what they see around them. Therefore, model growth-mindset thinking and behavior in front of your children by using phrases such as “I know it is difficult, but I can do it,” instead of saying, “This is too difficult; I can’t do it.”

6. Appreciate the effort and not the result

It is essential to acknowledge the effort that your child puts in. For example, if your child got a few math problems wrong, appreciate the effort that went into solving the problem rather than dwelling on the wrong answer. Also, to inculcate a growth mindset in your child, praise the process rather than the result.

Children must be taught to enjoy the learning process. Teach them not to mind a slight delay or a roadblock in their work and instead see it as an exciting opportunity to learn.

7. Motivate them in case of failures

Failures and setbacks occur and are a part of life. For developing a growth mindset, teach your child that these failures are an opportunity for improvement and a way forward. Motivate them to do better and help them believe in themselves.

For instance, if your child did not perform well in a science exam, do not say, “It’s okay if science is not your subject. You can find your strong subject.” Instead, say, “We’ll work out something together and fix this.” This will encourage and motivate the child to improve the next time.

8. Focus on growth instead of speed

We all tend to compare ourselves with others, and children are no different. It is common to hear children say, “I came first,” “I got to the answer way before you,” etc. Discourage them from using such statements, and highlight the importance of growth rather than how fast one is growing. Let your children accept that everyone learns at their own pace and that there is ample room for mistakes when growing.

9. Do not label them

No matter how talented your child is, never label them. Avoid saying things such as “You are a natural at playing the keyboard,” “You are so talented,” “You are a genius,” or “You are just lazy.” Tagging children encourages a fixed mindset. Applaud and appreciate children but without labeling them if you wish to promote a growth mindset in them.

10. Encourage reading

Reading opens up different possibilities and new worlds to children. Inculcate the habit of reading in children early on. You could do this by engaging them in fun reading games and activities.

Stories are great tools to teach children many things, including good habits, etiquette, or a growth mindset. In fact, using stories, children can see the growth mindset in action. You could consider introducing them to classic short moral stories.

11. Encourage them to ask for help

It is essential to normalize asking for help or speaking up when something is not right. A child should know that asking for help is not a sign of weakness and that it only helps them improve at something or learn something new.

12. Teach them the powerful word “yet”

An excellent way to develop a growth mindset in your children is by teaching them the powerful word “yet.” When your child tells you that they are not good at something, teach them to add the word “yet” to their sentence. For instance, if they say, “I am not good at math,” ask them to say, “I am not good at Math yet.” This teaches them to work harder and put in more effort to get better at something they are currently not good at.

13. Make them enjoy a challenge, not fear it

Teach your children to face a challenge and sign up for it rather than shy away from it. Facing a challenge head-on is a trait of people with a growth mindset. Create situations, such as playing a competitive sport, solving a complex puzzle, trying some brain games, or even playing a challenging video game, where you can teach your child to face the challenge rather than opt for an easier way out.

14. Train them to see the big picture

Train your child to see the big picture in every situation. They may be bad at science, but tell them how it helps us in our daily lives. Also, show them how seeing the big picture helps them find a purpose and focus their attention on the important things, no matter how difficult those may be.

15. Inculcate determination and grit

An essential aspect of a growth mindset is having the determination and grit to succeed. Teach your child to be determined and pursue their goals without bothering about failures. You may read inspirational stories to them or share stories about real people with these qualities.

16. Teach them to be goal-oriented

Children must be taught to be goal-oriented. Children with this trait will be motivated to improve their performance, remain resilient in times of failure, and eventually develop mastery of skills.

17. Let them take risks

It is okay to goof up sometimes because we all do. Children must be taught to take risks and not fear failure. Every risk taken is a learning opportunity.

18. Debunk the talent myth

We often see people crediting someone’s success to their inborn talent. However, if you wish your child to develop a growth mindset, debunk the talent myth and teach them the importance of motivation, effort, and hard work. Your child must understand that they can develop talent with practice and hard work.

19. Teach them that practice makes perfect

Children learn by example and experience. Help them understand how repeatedly doing tasks, such as playing the same chord again, solving the same math problems, or trying the same ballet move, makes it easy for their brain to remember and helps them perfect it.

20. Teach them not to seek too many approvals

Children often seek approval and support from their parents and caregivers. However, to inculcate a growth mindset in your child, teach them to trust their instinct and judgment. Seeking too many approvals can impede their potential for growth. Children who are taught to be confident and seek less approval from those around them develop into self-reliant individuals as they grow up.

21. Learn from peoples’ mistakes

It is never advisable for children to compare themselves to others. However, they could always look around and learn not just from their mistakes but also from those of people around them. They should understand that everyone has weaknesses and makes mistakes, but these do not make someone a failure.

22. Teach them that learning is a never-ending process

People with a growth mindset continue to learn and enjoy doing so all their lives. Teach your child that learning is a lifelong process. As they increasingly engage themselves with others and explore the world around them, their knowledge increases, and their behavior changes for the better. Also, encourage them to set new goals. People with a growth mindset find setting new goals mentally stimulating and exciting.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do children have a growth mindset?

According to experts, young children are naturally inclined toward the growth mindset. They don’t think about their limited capabilities. Instead, their curiosity about the environment propels them to question everything around them and explore through their senses. Their main objective (unknowingly) is to learn. So, they learn through trial and error and modeling and teaching (11).

2. How can teachers instill a growth mindset in students?

Teachers can help their students develop a growth mindset by emphasizing efforts than the results. They should encourage their students to develop in-depth knowledge on each topic or skill and praise students’ efforts. A teacher should never judge students based on their intelligence but evaluate them based on their growth over a period (12). A teacher who wants to instill a growth mindset in their students should create a growth mindset culture where students’ ability to take challenges, exert effort, and surmount obstacles is valued more than their innate talent.

Inculcating the importance of a growth mindset for kids is crucial to have your children grow up to be determined and hardworking individuals. This is one of the most important responsibilities of parents, teachers, and caregivers that must be carried out right when children are in their developing state. So teach your children that success is not specific to a person, and anyone can achieve it through perseverance. Follow the above tips and encourage your children to keep trying and working hard and never give up on their dreams.

Key Pointers

  • Children with a growth mindset accept new challenges and criticism and have eternal learning desires, whereas those with a fixed mindset give up easily and fear failures.
  • Educate your child about the brain concepts and mindsets using stories and interesting videos.
  • Motivate them to learn positive attributes by being a good role model.
  • Teach them about determination, focus, and ways to deal with failures.
  • Encourage them to learn from mistakes and ask for help; do not forget to appreciate your child’s efforts.


1. Carol Dweck;What Having a “Growth Mindset” Actually Means;Harvard Business Review (2016).
2. Growth Mindset: What you need to know;
3. Fixed Vs Growth: The Two Basic Mindsets that Shape Our Lives;Brain Pickings
4. Introduction to Growth Mindset Teaching;Empowering Education
5. Raising Children with a Growth Mindset- The Power of Yet;JBCN International School
6. Learning Rewires the Brain;Society for Science & the Public
7. 9 Ways to Teach a Growth Mindset to Kids;Six Seconds
8. How a Bigger Purpose Can Motivate Us to Learn;InformED
9. Fiona Boylan, Lennie Barblett, and Marianne Knaus,Early Childhood Teachers’ Perspectives of Growth Mindset: Developing Agency in Children; Australian Journal of Early Childhood (2018).
10. 25 Ways to Develop a Growth Mindset;InformED
11. Growth Mindset in Early Learners; University of Nebraska-Lincoln
12. TEACHING WITH A GROWTH MINDSET; Millersville University
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Monk Sadhvi Nishtha Om is a practicing psychologist and psychotherapist in India with ten years of experience. She has worked with children, adolescents and adults using tools such as Therapeutic Meditation, Inner Child Healing, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Emotional Empowerment Technique (EET) in a career spanning more than a decade.

Read full bio of Sadhvi Nishtha Om
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