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A growth mindset

A mindset is a mental attitude or framework that guides how a person interprets and understands situations, other people and even themselves.  Mindset plays a key role in determining how people make sense of their successes and their shortcomings. 

A person who has a fixed mindset believes that their abilities are cast in stone.  For example, they may see themselves as a natural athlete, or a born klutz.   It doesn't matter whether we are talking about a strength or a shortcoming, a fixed mindset is  not helpful.

If you credit your success to having been born smart, or athletic or artistic, you may limit yourself to only doing what comes easily and avoiding new challenges.  You may interpret mistakes as a sign that you are not really talented rather an opportunity to learn and improve.  If you believe you were born with your shortcomings, you may not put any effort into overcoming them.  Either way, you may get stuck. 

What's the alternative?  A growth mindset puts more emphasis on effort, persistence, and practice than accomplishments.  Children (and adults) who have a growth mindset have more fun learning, take on bigger challenges, and have more compassion.  They understand that effort and hard work pay off, and that everyone is capable of making changes.  

A growth mindset fuels happiness and optimism because it points you in the direction of getting where you want to go using effort, persistence and getting extra help.  With a growth mindset,  mistakes become opportunities for new learning rather than sources of embarrassment or shame.

In his book called Outliers:  The story of success, Malcolm Gladwell points out that Bill Gates may have been born a whiz kid, John Lennon a gifted songwriter, and Wayne Gretzky a natural athlete.  They may have been talented but they also racked up 10,000 hours of practice early in life - practice and effort which no doubt contributed to their success. 

Listen to Dr. Carter speak about growth mindsets then go to  Praising and practicing to learn what you can do to cultivate a growth mindset in your children.


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