Do you have a “fixed” or a “growth mindset”? Does your mindset change depending on the situation? According to psychologist Carol Dweck, those with a fixed mindset see intelligence as something that doesn’t change as opposed to those with a growth mindset who assume one is always learning and growing, thereby increasing intelligence. This can also be viewed in terms of attributes like athleticism, and facility with numbers or the written word.
Dweck’s book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, is a great read for parents in particular. Being more mindful about how you encourage your children is something we can all learn to do more of, and of course it can greatly alter how kids view their abilities and their possibilities, in life.
Imagine focusing on praising your child for the effort they put in to get a good grade instead of praising their intelligence. By praising the effort they should begin to view themselves as in control of their grades, as opposed to deciding early on that less than stellar grades equates to less than stellar intelligence. It’s a powerful, yet simple, concept. And it can truly lead to people either giving up early or being on the road to fulfilling their potential.
I learned about Dweck’s work through the Positive Psychology for Coaches webinar I took a few months ago (and recommend highly). If you aren’t familiar with the field of positive psychology, here’s a great place to read about happiness research and trends.