How making mistakes is an important part of a growth mindset

“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). This is because they worry less about looking smart and they put more energy into learning.” – Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University

The important word there is worry. Does your child worry about making mistakes? Do they have difficulty starting a task for fear of not being able to do it “perfectly”? This is where a growth mindset can be very helpful.

A growth mindset can help students recognise the benefits of a trial and error approach, however it can be a difficult concept for adults to understand, let alone kids. Below are some strategies and a wonderful exercise that can help you explain and demonstrate this concept to your child, and incorporate it into their learning process.

Example: Did you know how to ride a bike the first time you got on one? Most people have to start out with training wheels, practice for a while and improve over time before they can confidently ride a bike. This is the same for all skills that are worth doing.

Example: When Dustin Martin/Ash Barty/etc were little they didn’t know how to play their sport. They had to learn the rules, and practice, lose lots of games and listen to their coaches, and even now they still train all the time to keep getting even better.

Example: Albert Einstein was one of the greatest geniuses of all time. But he also struggled with maths his whole life. On the day he passed away he was sitting at his table with a pen and paper practising maths equations. He was determined to always learn and grow until his very last day.

Exercise: Try this exercise with your child to demonstrate the usefulness of making mistakes.

file 24 | Raise the Bar Psychology

Making mistakes helps us to learn and grow, and is an important part of a child’s development. Understanding the concept of a growth mindset can help kids to normalise mistakes, reduce the worry and fear around making them, and ultimately to see mistakes as another positive part of the learning process.