Helping Your Teen Develop a Growth Mindset

Posted by Templeton Academy

parents and education

According to Stanford University's professor Carol Dweck, the beliefs children have about intelligence, effort, and struggle impact the choices they make about learning. She divides the beliefs of both students and their parents into two views of intelligence - a fixed or a growth mindset. Parents can be instrumental in which mindset their children develop. Here is a review from with some suggestions for parents:

Fixed Mindset

That's the belief that intelligence is fixed at birth and doesn't change or changes very little with practice. It's the belief that intelligence is like eye color. You're stuck with whatever you're born with.

Students who have a fixed mind may see the classroom as a scary place. For them, school is the place where their abilities are evaluated, not where they are developed. Their goal in school tends to be to show that they are smart or at least to avoid looking dumb. For them, mistakes are a sign that they lack talent.

Growth Mindset

A growth mindset is the belief that intelligence improves through study and practice. In other words, people with a growth mindset think the mind is like a muscle that grows stronger with training.

Students who have a growth mindset see the classroom as a more exciting and less judgmental place. They believe they can develop their ability, and they understand that the classroom is the place to do that. Children with a growth mindset tend to see challenges as opportunities to grow because they know that they can improve their abilities by pushing themselves. If something is hard, they are confident it will drive them to get better.

Parenting a Growth Mindset

The way parents talk about ability and learning can have powerful effects on their kids' beliefs. Below are three ways parents can instill a growth mindset.

  • Recognize your mindset: Be mindful of your own thinking and of the messages you send with your words and actions
  • Praise the process: Praising kids for being smart suggests that innate talent is the reason for success while focusing on the process helps them see how their effort leads to success.
"I know it was hard, but look how your effort paid off." 
"You’ll get it. You’re working on it and making progress."
  • Model learning from failure: When parents talk positively about making mistakes, kids start to think of mistakes as a natural part of the learning process. Encourage a discussion of the next steps to take for improvement.

I didn’t do that the right way. I need to try again so I can figure out what I did wrong.”

"That isn't the right answer. You don't understand it yet. What do you think you should do next?"


Developing a growth mindset helps students to gain a stronger sense of self, engage in more positive self-talk, and interact more positively with their peers. Self-image encouraged by a growth mindset serves adolescents well inside and outside of the classroom. As a parent, your focus on teaching and modeling the behaviors can have a significant impact on your child…and perhaps on you, too!



Free Download:  The Learning Brain: How We Know What We Know


About Templeton Academy

Temp Keller
Templeton Academy is an experiential micro school with locations on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. and in Nashville, TN. It offers an academically rigorous curriculum designed to foster intellectual curiosity through active learning and community exploration. The small class sizes ensure that each student has a front row seat in classes with an average size of 10. Our model combines a warm, inviting atmosphere with great teaching that allows our students to flourish. Schedule a visit soon.

Find me on:

My Website