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Growth Mindset and Encouragement

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Carol Dwyeck's Growth Mindset Theory

Encouragement is a key concept in Adlerian psychology and parenting theory.  Too often we substitute praise which has been proven to be detrimental. Sure, parents don’t mind being encouraging when it comes to learning to make a bed or tie shoes, but when little Junior hits school, parents are riddled with fear about how to be encouraging while secretly yearning and pressuring a child to bring home a report card with straight A’s.

Well, a lovely job of summarizing the research appears in a recent issue of Scientific American. Notice their language as they talk about effort over achievement and teaching children that mistakes are just wonderful opportunities to learn more.  It’s all there!  I hope this helps parents see the value of being encouraging.  I promise a child who is into “mastery” with a “growth mindset” rather than “ego” will go far.

About Alyson

Alyson has been blogging parenting advice for over 15 years. She has been a panelist at BlogWest, Blissdom, #140NYC and more. Her content appears on sites across Canada and the US, but you can read all her own blog posts right here.

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6 Responses to “Growth Mindset and Encouragement”

  1. Thea

    Thanks for posting this! Most helpful both at home and in my teaching.

  2. Renuka

    Hi Alyson,
    This may not be the best place to write this, but I’m a first time visitor to your site (linked here through another website, which I was sent to from an email newsletter!) and couldn’t leave without saying a few words! First of all, a little about me. I don’t have any kids of my own, but my 6-year-old nephew does live with us. I did my minor in Psychology, and I’m absolutely fascinated with psychology even now. I’m a teacher (currently teaching adults for this school year, but likely to go back to teaching kids soon), and I must say, you’re quite the teacher yourself! I thoroughly enjoyed reading through some of your current blogs/postings here, and also reading the comments of others. I do hope to have kids myself, in a few years, and I’m feeling so inspired after reading your ideas for only a few minutes. I want to say a big thank you for sharing this information with parents around the world. You’re helping parents be better parents, and helping kids in the process (and your words are helpful for teachers too!). These are children and parents who you don’t even know, and yet you are positively influencing their lives. I’m bookmarking your site and will visit again, just to read your ideas, advice, and get inspired for when I have my own children! I’m sure I can use some of the ideas with my nephew as well. Keep up the great work!
    Renuka in BC, Canada 🙂

  3. Amy Brown

    I try not to gush over how smart my kids are (when they can hear me!) but I can’t get their grandparents to stop telling them how clever they are. Does anyone think that’s going to do them any harm as long as I encourage them and teach them that effort is the most important thing, and that mistakes are good? Or should I try and get the in-laws onside with me?
    As a former helpless smart kid (I pretty much perfectly fit the description given in the Scientific Article) I made some choices earlier in life which I now regret deeply, so this is a very important and practical (that is, not theoretical) issue for me.

  4. Alyson Schafer

    Children key into their parents attitudes and weigh in on them with so much more importance than other people’s, including close relatives. If you learn to be encouraging, that will be enough influence.

  5. Ramonita

    So we expect that over the course of three years. But we’re not directly affected by, we’re not having
    any trouble buying corn for August and even September values have come down, it has
    trouble penetrating all the way through it.

  6. Alyson Schafer

    I do post comments that are in disagreement with my own, so long as they are thoughtful debates. Is there something you wanted to share with this audience of readers? If so – please post your ideas respectfully.


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