Growth Mindset for Kids

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Practical Psychology

Whether you are a teacher, an older sibling, or a parent, you probably influence the younger people in your life. If you are interested in learning about encouraging a growth mindset in kids, you’re in the right place. (This post also includes 15 quotes on growth mindset for kids! Use them to encourage the children in your life.) 

Take a moment and think about the most influential adults in your early life. What did they tell you about achieving your dreams? 

Did they say something like, “you can do anything you can put your mind to” or “maybe you should focus on the things you’re already good at?” 

Did they say, “you are a hard worker” or “you have a gift?” 

These phrases are small, but they make a huge impact. What we say to children forms their mindset. Their mindset makes an impact on how they see themselves, their hard work, and their ability to succeed. In recent years, the importance of having a “growth mindset” has made its way into college psychology courses. Setting kids up with a growth mindset could be the difference between their growth or stagnancy regarding certain skills. Can you help the young people in your life develop a growth mindset? 

What Is a Growth Mindset? 

To establish a growth mindset for kids, you have to understand what a growth mindset is. A growth mindset is one that believes that all abilities can develop. No matter where you start or how much skill you have, you can grow. 

A growth mindset is especially important in the face of failure. Kids won’t succeed at everything they try. They’re just kids! 

Growth vs. Fixed Mindset 

To some, the idea of a growth mindset seems like the obvious path to success. Other people may not feel that way. Some people are raised with a “fixed mindset.” Essentially, a fixed mindset is one that suggests gifts and talent are “fixed.” A person who is good at writing will always be good at writing. On the flip side, a person who is “bad” at writing will always be bad at writing. They can improve their skills to a certain level, but will likely plateau and always be behind the more naturally-gifted writers.

In her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck wrote: “Individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others) have a growth mindset. They tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset (those who believe their talents are innate gifts).”

If you are interested in learning more about mindset, her book is the best place to go! 

The Importance of a Growth Mindset 

When comparing fixed and growth mindsets, you can see how children benefit more from the growth mindset. If they believe that success is possible, there is a reason to keep working toward it. Why would anyone waste time on something they know they will never have? 

Studies on Growth Mindset for Kids 

Psychologists have studied the effects on mindset for decades. What they’ve found is pretty significant. Here are a few results from studies on growth mindset: 

  • In 2015, researchers offered low-achieving students a “mindset training” and evaluated how test scores changed as a result of the training. They found that the “low-cost treatment, delivered in less than an hour, attained a substantial proportion of the effects on grades of the most effective rigorously evaluated adolescent interventions of any cost or duration in the literature within the pre-registered group of lower-achieving students.” Essentially, mindset training significantly boosted the scores of students who had otherwise performed poorly.
  • A study conducted in 2018 revealed that “Students with a strong growth mindset scored significantly higher on all subjects—31.5 points in reading, 27 points in science, and 23 points in math—compared with students who believed their intelligence was fixed.” 
  • Various studies on growth mindset and motivation show that the two are more linked than we might have assumed. The researchers suggest “When individuals have intrinsic motivation for performing a task at work or school, their work or educational performance will improve. With the inculcation of growth mindset, individuals will perceive the intrinsic value of a given task and self-regulate their behaviors to perform the task. Through internalization, individuals will generate intrinsically motivated behaviors at work or school.”

Explaining Growth Mindset To Your Kids 

How do you ensure that your kids approach their problems with a growth mindset? As studies suggest, it doesn’t cost a lot of money and it doesn’t take a lot of time to do this “training!” 

Praise Their Work Effort, Not Their Innate Talent. Be mindful of what you say to the young people in your life. It is natural to praise a child for their achievements, trophies, or medals. But what are you suggesting to them: because they got these things because they were naturally “the best,” or because they worked hard? Having a growth mindset means understanding that the road to success isn’t a straight and easy path. There are plenty of detours, bumps, and obstacles that must be overcome with hard work and trying new things. Can you congratulate the young people in your life, not for getting to the end of their journey, but also for navigating the most difficult parts? 

Approach Failure as an Opportunity. As many say, failure is only failure when you give up on trying. Thomas Edison “failed” 10,000 times before he invented the lightbulb, and today we know him as one of the greats. How will you talk to the young people in your life about “failure?” Is it a permanent thing, or are all failures a “mistake” that is actually a hidden opportunity? After we fail, we can learn something new and gain some crucial knowledge that helps us when we try again. Do the young people in your life know that? 

Adopt a Growth Mindset in Your Life! Children take note of how adults live their lives. They learn by observation. If you start on a project around the house and “give up” easily, they will learn to do the same. The next time you want to take on a project or learn a new skill, think of what the young people around you are learning from your behavior. Will they “copy” you by discouraging themselves when they encounter failure? Or, will they see mistakes as opportunities to learn something new? 

Quotes About Growth Mindset For Kids

  • “Every problem is a gift. Without them we wouldn’t grow.” -Tony Robbins
  • “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” -Albert Einstein
  • “The only thing that overcomes hard luck is hard work.” -Harry Golden
  • “Nothing is impossible.  The word itself says, ‘I’m Possible!’”  -Audrey Hepburn
  • “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” -Henry Ford
  • “The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem.” -Captain Jack Sparrow
  • “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” -Nelson Mandela
  • “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” -Walt Disney
  • “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” -Napoleon Hill
  • “Just because you haven’t found your talent yet doesn’t mean you don’t have one.” -Kermit the Frog 
  • “Failure is not the outcome. Failure is not trying. Don’t be afraid to fail.” -Sara Blakely 
  • “I don’t believe in failure. It is not failure if you enjoyed the process.” -Oprah Winfrey
  • “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” -Thomas Edison
  • “It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.” -Confucious
  • “The expert at anything was once a beginner.” -Helen Hayes

Reference this article:

Practical Psychology. (2022, October). Growth Mindset for Kids. Retrieved from

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