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3 practical tips to help your child to develop a growth mindset

Last week’s blog explored the difference between a fixed and a growth mindset, and what kind of an impact these different mindsets can have on a child’s ability to learn.

All very well and good, but how can we help our children to develop the growth mindset that will put them in the best possible position to progress?

The great news is that changing a fixed mindset to a growth mindset is not a herculean task – with consistency and enthusiasm, results can be seen in as little as a week or two!

As part of the launch of our new program, Emotions First, which helps children to develop that all-important growth mindset, we are using this week’s blog to share 3 of our best tips to help you to make a start at home, too!

1. Turn mistakes into something to be celebrated!

Children don’t begin life wanting to do things right every time. Watch a baby as they try to clap over and over again, developing the hand-eye coordination and muscle strength needed to do it properly. Watch a toddler spending hours trying to build a tall tower using the blocks!

Part of all of us realises that making mistakes is an integral part of making progress, but somewhere along the way we also realise that we get more praise for the things that go right, and all of a sudden, that’s what we focus on!

When your child makes a mistake, it’s important to praise them.

We can praise the effort – “You tried so hard at [the activity] and I can see you’re getting better every time!”. We can remind them that they are one step closer to getting it right – “Wow, even though you didn’t quite manage it this time, I can see that you’re getting closer to nailing it!”. We can even prompt them to think of how it will feel when they finally get it right – “Gosh, you’re nearly there! I know it feels like it’s taking ages, but just imagine how good you’re going to feel when everything finally falls into place.

In all honestly, it doesn’t really matter what you say, as long as your child sees that you’re giving as much praise for the journey as you give to the eventual product of the journey!

In their simplest terms, children want to be seen and valued – we need to value their mistakes just as much as their successes (perhaps even more!)

2. Set your expectations and maintain them.

Many people make the mistake of thinking that encouraging a growth mindset means praising everything your child does, no matter how much effort they have put into it.

This is not the case at all!

Children know when they’ve rushed a piece of work, and they know what constitutes their best.

If we praise their best work just as highly as a piece that they rushed in the 15 minutes before bedtime, they will notice it. Why should they put hard work into a piece when they can get just as much praise for a rushed job?

The best way to make sure you are setting high expectations in this way is to praise the effort that went into a piece of work, rather than the outcome. “What a lovely [whatever it was they did!] I can see that you put a lot of time and thought into that. [Ask a question about their thought process].” What about “That’s lovely! I can see you getting better every time you do [whatever activity it is]. All that effort and practise is really paying off!

3. Encourage resilience – and model it yourself!

Learning about resilience is important, because even the most positive person with a huge amount of self-confidence can begin to feel their enthusiasm waning after multiple attempts without success.

With younger children, we do this by talking about ‘the power of yet’.

When their resilience has run out and they say, “I can’t do it!” we use the power of yet and remind them – “You can’t do it – yet!”

Children need to see this being modelled by the people around them, so don’t be afraid to let your children see you learning to do something, and persisting despite setbacks!

You can also use other, more famous role models to demonstrate the power of yet. If your child has a favourite actor, musician, athlete (or whatever!), take a look at their career progression. You will soon discover that it wasn’t just natural ability that got them to the pinnacle of their career – there will have been a huge amount of effort and a lot of failures on the way!

If you would like some more help with your child, we can help!

Our flagship programme, Emotions First, is designed with the first principle in mind that children cannot do their best academic learning until their mental health is on a secure footing.

Our bespoke programme will teach them how to recognise tricky emotions, to know what their triggers are, and will give them a toolkit that will allow them to deal with any situation put in their way.

It's been designed by the My Primary Tutor team with the help of a psychologist, and has proven strategies at its heart.

If you'd like to find out more, give Karen a shout on, and in May 2021 you can quote the code "EFMAY21" to get a £10 discount on your first session.

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