Life Skills Milestone

Building a Growth Mindset

Now that they’re in Big Kid School, your child is going to be asked to do more complex thinking and learning—and that means they also need to be ready to face challenges head on and problem-solve when things get tough. The goal in these years is to build not just their knowledge, but also their love of learning. That means helping them see themselves as capable, full of potential, and able to grow. (Which, of course, they are!)

You’ve probably heard your child (on many occasions) get frustrated when they can’t do something. I can’t tie my shoelaces. I can’t draw a perfect circle. I can’t read this book. Some kids are more inclined to frustration than others, but some angst over things they can’t do is pretty common.

Now that your kid is in school and tackling tougher challenges in the classroom and on the playground, it’s a good time to start nudging them away from “I can’t” and toward “I can’t…yet.” That’s known as a “growth mindset,” and it will serve them well as they go on their school journey.

Here are some things to focus on in these early school years:

1

We’re all working on something. Model trying, failing, and trying again at home. When you’re going to try something new or difficult, narrate your feelings, for example by telling your kids, “I’m not sure I can do this. I feel a little bit nervous that I might make a mistake.” Talk to them about some of the things you’re working on. Be honest about times you feel frustrated when you make a mistake or can’t do something right away, and explain how you’re trying again or using a different strategy.

2

Give them positive reinforcement for trying and encourage them to speak up when they need help. Compliment them on their efforts when you see them working on something hard. And remind them that they can ask for support when they need it—and model that for them by asking for help when you need it, too.

3

Remind your kid how much they’ve learned since they were a baby. You can even share photos, videos, or favorite family stories of how they learned to walk, talk, eat, or do something else that was hard at first. Your kid will probably be fascinated to learn how much our brains are capable of growing, changing, and even rewiring themselves. Scientists call this “brain plasticity,” and it’s pretty cool.

Want to learn more about how to support your child’s growth mindset? Check out Understood for some great resources about growth mindset and how to help your child build theirs.