Having a growth mindset allows kids to overcome challenges, failures, and mistakes, while maintaining self-confidence and self-love. Additionally, a growth mindset helps kids set, pursue, and achieve their biggest dreams.
A growth mindset isn’t something that’s a given because of it’s counterpart, the fixed mindset. A fixed mindset limits kids from believing in themselves by attributing their shortcomings or failures to “just the way they are.” With a fixed mindset, kids stay stuck and limit themselves.
In this podcast, learn five key practical strategies that you can start using with your kids today to help them have a growth mindset.
Hi there. Welcome to the Design Your Dream Life podcast. My name is Natalie Bacon and I’m an Advanced Certified Mindfulness Life Coach as well as a wife and mom, if you’re here to do the inner work and grow, I can help. Let’s get started.
Hello my friend. Welcome to today’s podcast on how to raise a child to have a growth mindset. Do you know what a growth mindset is and what a fixed mindset is? These are two frameworks that have been really tremendously helpful in my own life, and they play a big part of who I am today and who I want to be as a mom. So before I give you the strategies that will absolutely help you in your own parenting, I wanna start off with the definition of both growth and fixed mindsets. So I’m getting this definition from Harvard Business School and I really liked this definition, so I wanna share it with you here.
Someone with a growth mindset views intelligence, abilities and talents as learnable and capable of improvement through effort. On the other hand, someone with a fixed mindset views those same traits as inherently stable and unchangeable over time. So let’s say for example, you’re noticing that you could benefit from having more patience as a mom, A growth mindset would say, I need to practice my patience. How can I practice more patience? I think that it’s possible for me to practice more patience in the future. A fixed mindset says I’ve never been able to have patience and therefore I’m never going to be able to change. That fixed mindset really is limiting because it views your personality, it views the the way that you are in the world as how you’ve been in the past, and therefore how you will continue to be in the future. It’s saying, I’ve been this way my whole life and therefore that’s how I’m going to be. A growth mindset acknowledges, yes, I’ve been this way in the past, but makes space for changing it in the future insofar as you want to.
The benefit I think to having a growth mindset is first that you overcome challenges in such a more empowering way you feel more confident and capable in your life, which feeling confidence and feeling capable are so important to navigating, you know, any circumstance, yes, challenges, but um, not even challenges, just things that are happening in your life that you want to have more confidence in or things you want to go for. Maybe it’s a goal. Having a growth mindset doesn’t mean that you are going to succeed at the first try. It just means that you’re going to keep trying if it’s something that you want. And that can be for external things like a goal, but also internally like patience. If you want to change a part of your personality, a growth mindset makes space for that. It views your personality as changeable. A fixed mindset does the opposite.
It says, this is just who I am and this is who I’ll always be. Therefore, you know, my options are limited. I like to think that whatever desire you have for yourself, for your life is there to guide you. And because of that holding space for that desire is important. Don’t squish it down and hide that desire instead make room for it. And the way that you do that is by having a growth mindset. It’s, I don’t know how this is going to happen, but I believe that it’s possible. So for example, I would like to one day be really fit and have a lot more muscle tone and stop eating so much sugar, a growth mindset, views that as possible. Of course it also says yes, it’s hard, but it’s possible. A fixed mindset would say, yeah, that’s just not possible. I have such a sweet tooth.
So think about in your own life how you perceive the world and how you perceive yourself and how you perceive your life. Do you have a growth mindset or do you have a fixed mindset? And it may be that you have a growth mindset in some areas, but a fixed mindset in other areas. The reason that this is helpful for you to do the work on first before with your kids is because modeling, having a growth mindset is going to be the best way to raise a child to have a growth mindset. They will pick up on how you view things, they’ll pick up on you growing and going for your goals and your dreams and changing your personality. If you want to make a change, they will see that by you modeling it and through your example, they will learn. It doesn’t always mean that they’ll take on everything that you model, but it is one of the best ways for you to raise a child to have a growth mindset is by modeling it because they will pick up on different ways of having that growth mindset that would be even hard for you to articulate just through those different examples.
Aside from that, I want to share with you specific strategies that you can use to raise your kids to have a growth mindset. And I wanna start off with normalizing failure and mistakes. So often we teach our kids indirectly that failure is bad and in part this is due to the way the education system is set up and it can be a real disservice to our kids if we see failure as something that should be avoided. Because after school, getting out into the world of, of going for your goals and your career and your life and whatever else you want to create, it really does require failure. So one of my favorite things to do to normalize failure and mistakes is to go around the table, whether it’s nightly or even just weekly, and have everyone in the family share a mistake or a failure of that week.
And this includes for mom and dad or the parents or whoever is in your household as well. What did you try really hard to do and fail at during the week? And you reframe what failure is in doing this, instead of making it something negative, you actually make it a win. Failure is a win because you are learning. Now I’m not talking about the type of failure where you don’t make an effort. So not handing in homework, that’s not the type of failure I’m talking about. I’m talking about I studied really hard, I turned in my homework, I tried hard on that test and I still got a C and celebrating that genuinely. Or maybe I tried to make a new friend and it didn’t work out, they declined. But I went for it celebrating that. Or I tried a new weight loss plan and I tried to stick to it, and I tried really hard and I failed and celebrating that maybe it’s, I went for a promotion at work.
I tried really hard, I submitted everything on time, I practiced ahead of time, I put a lot of time and effort and energy in and I didn’t get the job going around the table. And sharing failures is so helpful for modeling and showing a growth mindset because it’s saying the goal is not to only go for things when you know you’re going to win. The goal is to just go for things. And it’s okay if you fail in fact for something that you really want that’s challenging for you, it’s probably gonna take a lot of failures. So let’s say as mom, if you want to change something about yourself, maybe you wanna stop yelling, talk about that journey for yourself, talk about how you took what you’re learning inside Grow You and the scripts and the processing feelings and trying the work. And still this week you yelled three times and share when you didn’t yell as well. But normalize that process.
Normalize doing the work on yourself and encourage your kids and everyone in the family to also share their experiences. Go around and say, how did everyone fail this week? By trying, what did you learn? And I promise you this will completely reframe how your kids see failure. I remember growing up, one of the things my dad always said to me, whenever I would fail at something and I would tell him and I would kind of be sad or upset about it, he would say, so what big deal? Try again. Not a big deal. Who cares? Keep going. And it completely shifted me from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. The fixed mindset is, oh my goodness, I failed at this, therefore I am bad at this thing and I can’t do it. I can’t have what I want. And instead, what he was telling me was that, that’s not what that means.
All that means is you miss the mark this time, but you can keep going and try again. Normalizing that missing the mark is not a big deal and that it’s actually required to keep going. To get the result that you want is the recipe for teaching your kids how to get what they want. So by the time I was an attorney and taking my CFP exam and I failed the first time I took the CFP exam, I remember seeing fail on the screen and kind of being confused like I was. I was not pleased. They used that word. I was like, why does it say fail? They should have just said, how, how many I got out of how many and to try again next time because I had so reframed the word failure to me that it didn’t even resonate as something that I associated with.
I was like, oh, I guess I just need to take it again. And so I did and then I passed. If I wouldn’t have had that mindset, if I wouldn’t have believed that it was possible with a growth mindset, if I would’ve had a fixed mindset, I would’ve thought, I’m just not cut out for this. I’m not really good at tests or math and finance and this is just not gonna be for me. And that fixed mindset would’ve kept me from taking that exam again. So in a very real way, the way that we talk to our kids, the way that we teach our kids, the way that we model failure around our kids influences them and their mindset. If you have a specific example where your child is kind of in a fixed mindset, they’re thinking that they can’t do something and they’re incapable of it, come to Ask Natalie Anything and ask me about it specifically so that I can apply this to your life and really give you that coaching to help you take that child from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. You can get um, all the information and register over at nataliebacon.com/askNatalie.
The next strategy for raising a child to have a growth mindset is to ask really good questions. What do I mean by this? So when your child tells you that they’re struggling with something or they missed the mark or they failed, instead of trying to fix it for them, which sort of shows them that they need to depend on you to fix things, ask them what they are thinking, how they are feeling, what they want to try next, what they learned. When you ask them questions that show them you believe in them and their capabilities, they too will believe in themselves and their own capabilities. They’ll see, oh, mom thinks that I can solve this. Even if they don’t say that, which they won’t, it’s all right. They will pick up on the fact that you believe in them and that matters. It goes such a long way.
The next strategy is to validate their identity as having a growth mindset. This means sprinkle in some validation in the way that you speak to them and even to other people about them. You really wanna make sure that your mindset is that they have a growth mindset. So how might this look? You might be talking with them and just say to them, you are so capable, you are such a good problem solver. Or if they come to you with a challenge that they want you to solve, you might pause and say, Hmm gosh, in our family we are such good problem solvers. I wonder if we can all come up with some ideas for this.
I bet you have some good ideas. You’re so great at solving problems. So you’re sprinkling in to the conversation that they have the identity of someone who has a growth mindset when they feel really frustrated instead of trying to make them feel happier or solving it for them, whatever the thing is, talk about how frustration is often the fuel to learn something even though it kind of feels hard and challenging to experience, it’s a sign that you’re growing and you’re learning and you’re on the right track and increasing that frustration. Tolerance is so helpful to learning anything. You might say to them, I know you’re gonna figure this out, you can overcome this. Or You’re really good at making your dreams come true. I know that about you. I can tell. Or like my dad who whenever I would fail or miss the mark in some way, he would just say, so what big deal. Try again. He was normalizing failure for me and teaching me that it wasn’t a big deal. It didn’t matter if other people thought it was a big deal, having it come from my parent, the weight of that trumped so much else. So validating their identity as having a growth mindset is going to give them the idea that they have a growth mindset so that they take on that inner self-talk That yeah, I’m capable. I can figure this out. Even if they haven’t in the past.
The next strategy is to have a household culture of growth. And in this way you model for them that growth is ongoing. Growth is forever. Even if they excel in an area, there’s always room to grow. And the way that you create this in your home, this culture of growth is by leading by example. So what are you working on in your own life to grow? I know there are so many of you inside Grow You who are working on different areas of your personality, whether it’s patience or yelling or overwhelm or purpose or a goal like weight loss or career transitions. If you’re not in Grow, You yet come to Ask Natalie Anything so you can learn more about it and learn when the doors open. Because having something for you that you really care about that you know is the area of growth that you are working on right now
Is so beneficial to the entire family home. It’s beneficial to you first and foremost. But in this specific strategy that I’m talking about with having a household of growth that includes you as mom, otherwise it’s kind of on default signing up the kids for all the activities, modeling that performance and outcomes are the most important thing. And without kind of more intention behind it, the message is that kids get to do lots of activities, parents don’t. And the purpose of them is to do a good job and brag about that. The end, right? It’s sort of based in comparison and wanting to be able to kind of keep up with the Joneses in a way. And it’s not that activities are bad. I think activities are absolutely an opportunity for growth. But the goal shouldn’t be who’s performing at the highest level. The goal shouldn’t be who’s doing the most activities. The goal shouldn’t be let’s just put all of our kids in the most things to make sure we can keep up with the neighbors. Instead, it’s taking a step back. And I teach this in the Motherhood toolkit called Your North Star. It’s taking a step back and asking yourself, what’s the point here?
Why are we doing this in the first place? And if growth is a family value of yours, then it’s so much more than about the activity. It’s about becoming more of who you want to be. And that requires a growth mindset. If you have a child who’s naturally talented at soccer, that’s awesome for them and that’ll be a great experience. But where the most growth comes from is in the overcoming. So it might be in something completely unrelated where they actually have the most internal success. If they are someone who struggled a lot to speak in front of people and then they take a lot of classes and try really hard and overcome that fear, even if they never win a speaking award or never excel in terms of placement or outcomes, for them to overcome that fear, that is growth. That is going to mean so much more than just kind of continuing on the path of being really good at whatever it is they’re good at.
So this is why having a growth mindset is not really about achievement. You can have someone who’s very intelligent or um, very naturally gifted in some way and they can have a fixed mindset and it will be limiting to them. So having a growth mindset regardless of sort of the natural gifts that your kids have is going to be the way for them to grow as people, to overcome their challenges, to pursue their dreams, to transform into the people who they want to become. So whatever you are working on right now is going to be the example that you show in your family. And that I think is so much more meaningful to the whole family than, okay, everyone just signs up for their activity and that’s it. It’s seeing the meaning and the purpose behind it.
So by you focusing on your own growth, you are showing your kids and your family that growth is important forever. As human beings, we are always growing. Are you growing old or are you getting old? I wanna grow old always. And I think that by modeling that and having that as my own mindset and normalizing failures and mistakes, that gives me the best chance at helping my kids also have a growth mindset.
The last strategy is something that I teach inside Grow You, which is called a sit. Don’t solve. Sit with your kids in their challenges, in their negative emotions. Don’t try to solve for them. Normalize that all feelings are welcome. Instead of trying to teach them how to not be angry, teach them how to feel anger. Sit with them in their anger instead of trying to get them to not feel angry. Now, this is only going to be possible if you are doing the work as well. And we have a Processing Feelings course inside Grow You that you’re going to want to make sure that you have. If you’re not someone who understands how to process feelings and I know that I wasn’t and from doing this work, I can now model it. I’m not perfect at it by any means, but I know the process and I continue to apply it. And we also have inside Grow You an entire course on how to teach your kids about thoughts and feelings that you get after you’ve been in Grow You for six months. Because we want you to apply this work to your own life for six months and then teach it to your kids. Because if you teach it to them and you’re not really sure how to do it yourself, it’s just going to be a lot harder because it’s going to kind of leave, um, a lot of space and questions where they’re not really sure what you mean if you’re not really modeling it.
So for example, if you get really angry and then you apologize for being angry, it’s sending the message that anger is bad. And if at the same time you’re telling them it’s okay for you to feel angry, they’re gonna get mixed messages. So it’s gonna be a little bit more confusing than if you were applying the work yourself and saying, oh my goodness, I just felt really angry. I’m gonna process that anger. So when your kids feel negative emotion, sit with them in that negative emotion. Help them allow the feelings instead of trying to solve the feelings for them. Now, this doesn’t mean that all actions are acceptable. Of course you can have the boundaries that you want to have in place, but I like to say that all feelings are welcome, all actions are not. And when your kids believe that they can feel any feeling and that there’s no feeling that they can’t feel, they will be willing to work through challenges.
Because what makes the challenges hard is the feeling that they are feeling. So they will increase their emotional awareness, be willing to feel the discomfort. And that discomfort is what’s required for them to create the lives that they want. If they want to go for a goal or a job or making new friends at school or the hard class or whatever it is in their life that they want to do. If it’s hard for them, if they’re failing, but they believe that they can do it, and they’re willing to feel those feelings, they will continue to do it. And continuing to do it is all that’s required to one day get what it is that they want, said differently. They will get it if they don’t quit. And quitting comes from not being able to feel feelings.
So if you want to raise a child to have a growth mindset, normalize failure and mistakes, ask really good questions that empower your kids, validate their identity as having a growth mindset, create a culture in your household of growth and sit with your kids in their feelings to normalize all feelings instead of trying to solve for those negative feelings. When you do this, you will help your kids see that they are capable, that they can create the change and they can work through whatever challenge that they are facing. Alright, my friend, if you have questions about this, head on over to nataliebacon.com/askNatalie, bring your question to Ask Natalie Anything and I will answer it there. Take care.
If you loved this podcast, I invite you to check out Grow You my mindfulness community for moms where we do the inner work together. Head on over to nataliebacon.com/coaching to learn more.