This Parenting Tip Can Change The Way Your Child Learns

This Parenting Tip Can Change The Way Your Child Learns

Angela Markus

Stanford University psychology professor Carol Dweck has become something of a cult figure in education and parenting circles with her pertinent information on the best practices for developing children.

Her work on the “growth mindset” vs. the “fixed mindset” backed by more than a decade of research shows that there is an effective and ineffective way to develop your child’s thinking.

Dr. Dweck believes too many students are restricted by the belief that intelligence is a fixed trait. She says kids with what she calls “fixed mindsets” stop trying when confronted with a challenge because they’ve convinced themselves that they’re not good at whatever the subject is. She argues that adults can instead foster a “growth mindset” –the belief that the brain is like a muscle that can grow stronger through hard work.

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In a new RSA video, her speech is illustrated and offers information that parents can utilize to produce successful children. Dr. Dweck theorizes that parents’ well-intentioned praise contributes to the formation of unproductive fixed-mindset thoughts. According to the theory, it’s harmful to tell your kids that they’re smart because when they eventually do struggle in school, they might think they’re not so smart after all. Ultimately, they become afraid of challenges and less resilient when faced with obstacles.

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However, there is a more compelling and practical way. She says that contrary to what the gurus say, “in a growth mindset, where they believe intelligence can be developed, their cardinal rule is ‘LEARN at all times and at all costs.’”

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When research was conducted over several years, Dr. Dweck found that the 7th graders introduced to the “growth mindset” scored consistently higher than those with “fixed mindsets.” She said, “We measured their mindsets — we saw whether they believed intelligence was fixed or could be developed…They had entered seventh grade with just about identical achievement test scores. But by the end of the first term, their grades jumped apart and continued to diverge over the next two years. The only thing that differed were their mindsets…”

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Another intellectual mind chiming in on the discussion is Sal Khan of Khan Academy. He believes that instilling a “growth mindset” can be implemented “as soon as they understand language.” Although it gets harder later on, the mindset can be instilled at any age.

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