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Head of School Blog


Growth Mindset Parenting: Part 1

March 28, 2016
By Mike Skaggs

About a year and a half ago, I came Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, and I can say without reservation that it has been one of the most transformative books I’ve ever read. While it is not a “Christian” work, I saw God’s truth shine through again and again.

Dweck’s work categorizes our thinking into one of two perspectives on ability--either a growth or fixed mindset. I’ve recommended the book to friends and family, with great responses from most. We even took our teaching faculty through a version of the book dedicated to how these concepts play out in the classroom. I strongly recommend it!

Today and over the next couple of weeks, I’d like to share a recent  article for parents seeking to implement mindset strategies in their homes. The article is written by Eduardo Briceño, CEO of Mindset Works and is titled “Growth Mindset Parenting.”   May it provide valuable insight into how to train up your own children. Furthermore, I hope it helps give you a deeper understanding of your own mindsets in a variety of areas of life to help make you even more fit for kingdom service.




Growth Mindset Parenting

Many of us want our children to understand that we love them, and to believe that life can be fulfilling. Developing those beliefs will help them prosper. There is another powerful, research-based belief that will help children thrive. It is called a growth mindset.

What is a growth mindset?

Discovered by Stanford Professor Carol Dweck, Ph.D., a growth mindset is the belief that we can develop our abilities, including our intelligence, which is our ability to think. It is distinguished from a fixed mindset, which is the belief that abilities can't change, such as thinking that some people can't improve in math, creativity, writing, relationship-building, leadership, sports, and the like.

The mindset that we adopt leads to very different behaviors, improvement, and achievement. For example, research on adults shows that people who believe that good negotiators are made rather than born -a growth mindset about negotiation skills- persevere in tough negotiations, create more collective value, and capture more of the value in negotiations, as compared to those with a fixed mindset. Similarly, people who believe that leadership skills are developed -a growth mindset about leadership skills- feel inspired rather than threatened by other leaders, have higher confidence in their own ability to lead, and experience lower anxiety and higher performance in leadership activities. Managers who believe that personal qualities can change seek and welcome feedback more, notice changes in employee performance more accurately, and take on more coaching-oriented behaviors, leading to improved team capability and performance. And lots of research has shown that children with a growth mindset seek more effective learning strategies, work harder, persevere in the face of setbacks, and achieve higher competence.

Why does this happen?

It turns out that a fixed mindset, which is seeing abilities as fixed, leads people to see effort as a sign of inability and to feel badly about themselves when needing to expend effort, so they avoid it. But those with a growth mindset see effort as what makes us smart and capable, so they seek it. Second, people with a fixed mindset are most concerned with being judged by others as smart and talented, so they gravitate toward doing things they already know how to do quickly and perfectly. But those with a growth mindset can get bored when they're doing something they already know how to do, instead preferring to challenge themselves to learn something new, which is necessary for growth and improvement. And when they encounter setbacks or failure, people with a fixed mindset tend to conclude they're incapable, so to protect their ego, they lose interest and withdraw, while those with a growth mindset understand that learning something new involves struggling and making mistakes, so they persevere.