In the 1980s researcher Carol Dweck noticed that some children responded differently to challenges than other children. She saw that in the face of challenges and adversity, some children were more prone than others to ‘give up’. Dweck coined the idea of the ‘growth mindset’ and the ‘fixed mindset’. Children with a ‘growth mindset’ were more likely to see challenges as opportunities for growth, were more likely to persevere even in the face of adversity and were more likely to accept that they would sometimes fail. Children with a fixed mindset, often believed strictly in natural ‘abilities’ or ‘talents’ and were more likely to give up in the face of adversity. Teachers and significant adults in a child’s life can teach a child to alter their mindset and encourage them to a ‘growth mindset’.
It is important for us to instil a ‘have a go attitude’ or growth mindset in children. We can do this by shaping the way that they view challenges and setbacks and encouraging them to learn from their mistakes.
Top Tips for creating a ‘have a go culture’ in your classroom or school.
- Use failures as an opportunity to learn.
When children experience failure, try to avoid fixed mindset reinforcement like ‘Not everyone can be good at Maths’. Instead, ask curious questions with the child, ‘What can we learn from this? What could we do better next time? What other resources could I give you to learn the content better?’
- Use SBI – Situation, Behaviour, Impact.
SBI is an alternative to praise that effectively reinforces the growth mindset. As a parent, you acknowledge the:
Situation, ‘I noticed you were a bit scared about jumping in the pool’
Behaviour, ‘But you did it anyway, with Molly holding your hand’
Impact ‘And now I can see you’re having a great time swimming with Molly’.
- Remind kids that good things take time and perseverance – we’re not going to be great at everything straight away.
When kids get frustrated that they can’t accomplish a concept straight away, remind them that good things take time, all things are difficult without practise and no one is instantly amazing at anything. Instill in them a ‘have a go’ attitude that will see them through to adulthood.
Parentshop has developed No Scaredy Cats, a program to teach teachers and teacher aides the skills to be able to effectively challenge anxious behaviours in primary-aged children.
Click HERE for No Scaredy Cats for Teachers and Teacher Aides teaching you to identify and challenge anxious behaviours in the classroom.
Michael Hawton is the founder of Parentshop, providing education and resources for parents and industry professionals working with children. He has authored two books on child behaviour management: Talk Less Listen More and Engaging Adolescents. You can find more information, including his books and self-paced online parenting courses at https://www.parentshop.com.au/parent-courses