How to Teach Growth Mindset to Kids (The 4-Week Guide)

Developing the right mindset early on is crucial for a full, big life. When kids learn that putting forth effort and using the right strategies can make them smarter, they try harder and achieve more. When they know their brains are capable of growing, amazing things can happen! 

So how do we TEACH this simple and incredible concept to children? To start, make sure YOU understand the basics. 

WHAT IS GROWTH MINDSET?

We all have beliefs about our own abilities and potential. These beliefs are part of our mindset which is so powerful it can fuel our behavior and predict our success. Mindset shapes our everyday lives, helping us interpret our experiences and future possibilities. 

In her research at Stanford University, Dr. Carol Dweck identified two different types of mindsets. Growth mindset occurs when we believe our intelligence and abilities can be improved upon with effort and the right strategies.

Characteristics associated with growth mindset include a willingness to confront challenges, viewing failure as a springboard for growth, and a passion for learning. Not surprisingly, this type of mindset is strongly linked to greater happiness and achievement in life.

Alternatively, those with a fixed mindset believe their intelligence and abilities cannot be altered in a meaningful way. As a result, mistakes are seen as failures rather than opportunities to grow and learn. When stuck in a fixed mindset, we may fear new experiences, avoid risks, and feel the need to prove ourselves over and over.

THE 4-WEEK GUIDE

Teaching a growth mindset to children is not an easy task but it could become one of the greatest contributions you make towards their success and happiness.

In our 4-week guide, you will find the KEY elements for establishing a growth mindset at home or in your classroom. Each week provides a variety of suggested activities, worksheets, printables, and resources, as well as suggested scripts to facilitate easy and fun discussions with your child or students. 

We included a lot of suggested printable activities for each week. Feel free to skip some of them to go back to them later, if needed.

You can download the PDF version of this guide HERE.

  

WEEK 1: INTRODUCE IT

This week, children will learn about the concept of mindset and how the two types, growth and fixed, differ. We will also discuss the BRAIN, and how it can grow and strengthen in response to challenges.

Know that as you introduce these new ideas, keeping the tone fun and light will go a long way towards engaging kids!

Step 1: Building Foundation 

Have a family or classroom discussion about the following questions:

  1. What does it mean to GROW? What kinds of things grow? Answers will vary. Growth means to develop, change, mature, evolve. Living things grow - plants, animals, and people! Even our brains can grow!

  2. When you think of brains or minds, what do you think MINDSET means? Mindset is the way our brain thinks about things we do. Our mindset helps us look at problems, and even mistakes, in a positive way!

  3. Let’s put those words together: growth and mindset. When we combine them, it means something really important. What do you think growth mindset might mean? A growth mindset is believing in the power of yourself and your brain! We know our smarts and abilities develop when we try hard things, use the right strategies, and don’t give up. So a growth mindset is when we know that, with practice, we will get better at something.

  4. If fixed is the opposite of growth, what does it mean to have a fixed mindset?  A fixed mindset means you think you can’t get better at things, even if you practice. Wanting to quit, give up, or decide we’re just not good at something are all clues we have a fixed mindset. 

You can use our Mindset Poster to help your child visualize the difference between the two mindsets.

printable growth mindset poster kids 

Use suggested script below to discuss brain's ability to grow: 

“Let’s start talking more about the way we see things, our mindset. Mom and Dad have a mindset. Your teacher has a mindset. Everyone in the world has a way of seeing things.

We can choose to look at the world in a way that makes us feel strong and happy, or in a way that makes us feel frustrated and we can’t improve.

People with a growth mindset know they can get better by working hard. They tend to keep trying even when things are tough and they say things such as, ‘I can’t do this...yet’ or ‘Mistakes help me learn.’

Others feel differently, like they are stuck with the way things are. This is a fixed mindset and it happens to everyone sometimes. But we can choose to have a growth mindset when we stick with challenges and keep trying.”

Step 2: Reflection

Share a personal story about when you were stuck and used hard work or help from others to overcome a challenge.

Ask your child or class to share similar examples from their lives. In the classroom, this could be done with everyone together or in smaller groups.

Use our Growth Mindset Maze printable (available HERE) as a fun activity for kids to practice their knowledge about the mindsets.

growth mindset game kids

Step 3: Growth Mindset and The Brain

Discuss the brain and its remarkable ability to change and grow. Use our suggested script below.

“Now that we know what growth mindset is, let’s talk a little more about our brains and the amazing things they can do!

Did you know you can grow your brain when you try new things and don’t give up when something is tough?

Learning something new is hardest the first time, but your brain behaves like a muscle and gets stronger every time things are repeated. Let’s watch a video to help us understand this even better.” 

Use the "I Can Grow My Brain" poster for this step (part of the Growth Mindset Printables Kit). It's a great way for your kids or students to learn more about how their brain works and have fun along the way.

growth mindset poster kids activity

Suggested Resources for Week 1:

ACTIVITIES

Use the following Big Life Journal resources:

  • Mindset Poster (PDF) is a visual representation of growth and fixed mindsets and it helps children understand the difference between the two.
  • Parent's Guide to a Growth Mindset (part of the Growth Mindset Printables Kit 1&2) provides specific examples of what to say/ask to help your kids develop a growth mindset.
  • Growth Mindset Maze (part of the Growth Mindset Printables Kit 1&2) is a fun activity where kids decide whether a statement belongs to a fixed or a growth mindset.
  • I Can Grow My Brain poster (part of the Growth Mindset Printables Kit 1&2) is a great activity to teach kids about the incredible power of their brain
  • Big Life Journal is a growth mindset journal broken down into 26 weeks. Use Week One to discuss how having a growth mindset can help us positively impact other people and the world around us.

READ

WATCH

WEEK 2: NOTICE IT

This week, we begin to identify growth and fixed mindsets in ourselves and others. Everywhere we look, we can find examples of others quitting or working through their problems.

Step 1: Reflecting on Definitions

Go back to the definitions of growth and fixed mindset from Week 1. Did anyone notice a time he/she was using either mindset? Discuss how we can change from fixed to growth mindset with simple words and phrases we can begin practicing TODAY!

Use suggested script below: 

“Last week we talked a lot about growth mindset and how our brains get stronger when we stick with hard things! Have you noticed a time you had a growth mindset in the last few days? Did you feel your brain growing? What about a time you felt stuck?”

Step 2: Statements

Ask your child/class to think of some FIXED mindset phrases commonly used in home/school (“I give up”, “I can’t do this”) and write them down.

Next, create a list of alternate phrases that reflect growth mindset (“I’m not good at this yet”). Above the fixed mindset column, write “Instead of” and on the Growth mindset column, “I Can Say…”. 

Use suggested script below: 

“Let’s think about the kinds of things we say when we’re stuck in a fixed mindset so we’ll know when it’s happening. We’ll even write them down. Then we can come up with some ways to flip to a growth mindset using our words. I bet we can think of tons of ideas!”

Alternatively, you can use our Growth Mindset Statements printable available HERE

growth mindset statements classroom home kids

Step 3: Visuals

Display visuals around your home/classroom as constant reminders of new vocabulary and ideas. Have child/class locate their favorite spots to hang posters and refer to them frequently throughout the day.

Then, when you hear a child making a fixed mindset statement, you can simply point to a positive quote and have him/her repeat it. 

You can use our printable posters: Growth Mindset Poster, Success Iceberg Poster, and You Can Learn Anything Poster. 

printable growth mindset posters for kids classroom

Step 4: Daily Routines

 

 

Consider daily routines and how growth mindset can be easily embedded. Set aside at least several minutes each day to discuss and reflect on it. 

As a family: Consider how growth mindset LOOKS, FEELS, and SOUNDS at home. Discuss specific ways we can help each other when we’re “stuck” and need help shifting our perspective from a fixed to a growth mindset.

In school: Consider how growth mindset LOOKS, FEELS, and SOUNDS in class. Make Growth Mindset Monitor one of your classroom jobs. End the school day with time for students to share their mindset experience.

Use our printables "We Are a Growth Mindset Class/Family" from the Growth Mindset Kit 1&2. 

growth mindset printables kids family classroom

    Step 5: Book and Movie Characters

    Identify growth and fixed mindsets in favorite book and movie characters. Pay attention to how the characters FEEL depending on their mindset and discuss ways persistence, love of learning and resilience are portrayed.

    Notice when a character does the hard work of shifting from a fixed to a growth mindset too!  

    Use suggested script below:  

    “In so many of your favorite books and movies, the characters are learning to have growth mindsets too. Let’s pick one now and try to find all the ways we see it happening!”

    Use our Book Review Printable (available HERE) as a fun activity for kids to practice noticing growth mindset characters in books.

    Book review printable for kids growth mindset

    Suggested Resources for Week 2:

    ACTIVITIES

    Use the following Big Life Journal resources:

    READ

    WATCH

    WEEK 3: MODEL IT 

    Your ability to MODEL a growth mindset can make the difference between a child understanding the concept and actually living it. 

    Let them see your growth mindset in action.

    Step 1: Being Open

    Be honest when something is tricky for you. Tell kids when you’re discouraged, share your fixed mindset thoughts and brainstorm solutions aloud. Show them we’re ALL learning this growth mindset thing together!

    Step 2: Mindset and feelings

    Explore how positive feelings such as pride and happiness come from persisting through challenges. When stuck in a fixed mindset, share how you felt sad, anxious or even hopeless. Negative feelings may serve as clues that you need to shift your thinking.

    Step 3: Learning something new 

    Set a goal for yourself to learn something new and share your learning process. How did you feel at the start? How did you set that goal for yourself and go about achieving it? Review ways children can set and meet their own goals! 

    Use our Goal-Setting printables (available HERE) as a fun activity for you and kids to practice setting new goals.

    goal-setting printables kids

    Step 4: The Power of Yet

    With one simple word, any fixed mindset phrase can be transformed into a statement of hope. “I can’t do this...yet.” It’s all about the FUTURE, and not giving up until we get there.

    Make a “YET” bulletin board or designate a wall at home for all the things you can’t do...yet!

    You can also use My Power Of YET printable (available HERE) as a fun activity for you and kids.

    my power of yet printable

      Use suggested script below:

      “Even though I know about growth mindset, I still have to work at it. Especially when something is hard for me. I can tell I’m in a fixed mindset when I have thoughts about quitting and start to feel sad. When I feel that way, I know I need to change my thinking to a different mindset.

      One way that works is just using the word ‘yet.’ We can add it onto the end of almost any sentence to change our thinking. For example, when I get frustrated by a challenge and think ‘I’ll never get it,’ I just say, “I don’t get it...yet.” Or if I think I can’t do something, I’ll say, “I can’t do it...yet.”

      Can you think of a sentence that ends with ‘yet’ that would make you feel better?

      ‘YET’ is kind of like a magic word. It shows we can keep trying and not give up on ourselves or our dreams.”

      Suggested Resources for Week 3:

      ACTIVITIES

      Use the following Big Life Journal resources:

      READ

      WATCH

      WEEK 4: PRACTICE IT

      Growth mindset is all about effort, so what better way to teach it than through practice, practice, practice?

      Step 1: Praise

      Praise for perseverance in problem-solving rather than being “smart” or talented. Connect positive results with effort rather than innate ability, and children will be more willing to take risks and value hard work. When you notice hard work or positive self-talk, make sure they know it!

      Our Growth Mindset Praise printable (available HERE) provides specific examples for you.

      growth mindset praise

      Step 2: Positive Reinforcement

      This is especially helpful for younger children. For example, create a simple game where kids receive a sticker or a cotton ball for practicing a growth mindset. For every 10 cotton balls or stickers, the child gets to choose a game everyone plays.

      Step 3: Productive Struggle

      In the safe environment of your home or class, give children time to consider their challenges and ask you questions about them. Grappling with a problem builds resilience, so give kids time for reflection before jumping in to help or “saving” them. 

      Step 4: Reframing Mistakes

      Get excited when opportunities for growth occur! In a challenging moment, say things like, “This seems like an opportunity to grow our brains!” Create an environment where setbacks are expected and even celebrated.

      Have kids read our fun Mistakes Poem (available HERE) to get them excited about their mistakes and failures.

      learning from mistakes poem kids

      Step 5: Hitting Pause

      Exercising the brain can be hard for kids. When your child (or you) become frustrated, it’s okay to take a break. “It’s time to give our brains a little rest. We’ll come back to this tomorrow!”

      Being watchful of your own fixed mindset “triggers” can help with this process.

        Suggested Resources for Week 4:

        ACTIVITIES

        Use the following Big Life Journal resources:

        READ

        PROJECT

        RECAP

        In a few short weeks, kids can establish a foundation in growth mindset and a new way of viewing challenges. We encourage you to go beyond the four weeks! Make the mindset the cornerstone of your child’s learning!

        Simple strategies like praising effort, reframing mistakes as opportunities, and embracing “YET” are powerful methods for shifting their thinking, and ours! When we model a growth mindset by facing challenges and showing OUR persistence, kids know they have an ally on this journey.

        Armed with a positive mindset and the knowledge that growth and change are always possible, kids will be ready to tackle their big, wonderful life ahead!

        You can download the PDF version of this guide HERE. 

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        13 comments

        • I love this guide going to use it in my classroom

          Robyn Bennett
        • Awesome book, love it ……….😃😄😊

          Siddhi Mule
        • I really appreciate the guide. It is difficult to do with young kids without the printable resources. I cannot spend my classroom budget on these. Any chance you offer them as a free printable?

          Andi Cohen
        • Very helpful. Trying from today.

          Ama Kye Sasu
        • wow everything I need in one bundle Thankyou

          viv

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