Growth Mindset is the belief that skills and qualities can be cultivated through effort and perseverance. Children who endorse a growth mindset aren’t afraid to stick with challenges because they believe that struggling is part of the learning process. In the opposite mindset, a fixed mindset, children believe that failures are evidence of inferiority and so they are hesitant to stick with hard things.

Parents have a critical role in whether their children endorse a growth or fixed mindset. One strategy to start using is this: start proclaiming Growth Mindset Family Values, then reference them in moments of struggle or challenge (both your moments and your kids’ moments).

I’ve come up with four Growth Mindset Family Values. Feel free to make them your own or come up with something that feels more like “you.”

Growth Mindset Family Values:

1. In our family, we love to be challenged.

2. In our family, how hard we work is more important than coming up with the right answer.

3. In our family, we know that not knowing sits next to learning something new. We love learning new things so we embrace “I don’t know” moments.

4. In our family, we try to remember that sticking with something hard makes our brains grow. And we’re big into brain growth.

Speak about these values often, especially when you’ve made a “mistake” or don’t know something. I’ve been known to act out Growth Mindset while cooking (“Ugh… I think I messed up this recipe! Well, it was a new one and definitely challenged me… and in our family, we do love to be challenged… I learned how to make it better for the next time so that’s pretty awesome!”).

Start struggling more around your child. Instead of opening a PlayDoh easily, struggle with your own as your child tries his. Instead of tying your shoes quickly, make a mistake and then try again.

These Growth Mindset Family Values are critical in helping your child around her school work while she’s at home. When kids endorse growth mindset, they become able to talk themselves through tough math problems, they read paragraphs over and over to make sure they understand correctly, and they aren’t afraid to start a writing assignment that they know will take them a long time.

For older kids, these values work really well in the Resilience Over Academics model I’ve been talking about, so check out those slides and video to bring it all together.

Try This At Home

Print out these values – or, of course, your own – and put them somewhere for everyone to see. Look at them with your kids as you eat breakfast, maybe predict a time over the day that will feel challenging and whether these beliefs and values might be helpful to reference. Use them at night to review the day with your children and remember, with positivity, Growth Mindset moments. And, perhaps the most powerfully, remind yourself of these values; say them to yourself as you encounter difficulty, disappointment, and distress.