Growth Mindset VS Fixed Mindset

From an early age, we manifest one of two mindsets, a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. Both have an exponential effect on how children are shaped in how they view themselves and how they deal with behaviors, successes, and failures.

Not only does having a growth mindset or fixed mindset shape young minds, but it also shapes them for the future. Which mindset they have will set them up in how they deal with relationships and their professional and personal life.

Ultimately, the two mindsets dictate a person’s capacity for happiness as the different views inevitably affect the way a person will lead their life.

This post will help you navigate the differences between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset and will explore the ways in which they impact the way a child thinks about themselves, their achievements, whether they stick to new habits or learn to develop new skills.

What Is A Fixed Mindset?

Having a fixed mindset means that we view ourselves as less than we are. We have the view that our character, level of intelligence, and abilities are stagnant and that there is nothing that we can do about it. This mindset disregards any potential for personal development.

A child with a fixed mindset may have the view that if they’re not particularly good at something, they may never be good at it.

What Is A Growth Mindset?

On the other hand, having a growth mindset is having self-confidence and having the outlook of giving things a go in life. Someone with a growth mindset sees a challenge as something that motivates them and failure as an opportunity for growth instead of evidence of unintelligence.

Having a growth mindset is having the belief that intelligence is something that can be improved and that talents can be developed.

The Significant Difference Between The Two Mindsets

From the perspective of a person with a fixed mindset, the world is stagnated and full of challenges. In a fixed mind, putting in effort leads nowhere and that’s why only ‘smart’ people succeed. The success achieved as a result of putting in the effort is viewed as a phenomenon only intelligent people can experience.

Having a fixed mindset leads to a life of not fulfilling your full potential. It means that challenges faced and failures experienced are viewed as coming about from a lack of intelligence. Whereas, the perspective of a person with a growth mindset has a healthy relationship with achievement and looks to continually grow and develop.

A person with a growth mindset doesn’t see success as a defining factor and is instead motivated to learn.

Why Encouraging A Growth Mindset For Your Child Matters

A growth mindset is important for learning, motivation, and resilience. Encouraging a growth mindset for your child matters for several reasons.

Developing A Love For Learning

Firstly, children with a fixed mindset tend to be warier about trying new things as they are afraid of messing it up or looking dumb.

The result of this is that they will often stick with what they know in order to look smart. Eventually, this leads to them being more focused on keeping up appearances for family and friends than exploring and developing new abilities and embracing a love of learning.

Children who have a growth mindset enjoy the process of learning and are fueled by a spirit of curiosity that leads them to engage with a task fully and confidently. This helps to develop skills of problem-solving and it creates a connection between problem-solving and having fun.

Developing Life Skills

We all know that nothing comes for free. Success in life comes with hard work. By instilling the philosophy of the growth mindset that the process of learning or achieving a goal is one that requires hard work, effort and sometimes leads to experiencing setbacks and challenges.

However, the important part here is establishing that the setbacks and challenges are positive aspects of development as each setback comes with a lesson and an opportunity for growth. Pinning this philosophy down at a young age will be something that they take with them through life.

Learning to accept challenges and failures as part of the learning process will develop resilience and creativity as they won’t be afraid of trying new things and gaining new experiences.

How To Encourage A Growth Mindset

There are so many ways in which you can encourage a growth mindset in children. Some of which include:

Teach Them To Ask For Help

Children with a fixed mindset tend to avoid asking for help with the fear of feeling inadequate and unintelligent. To help a child shift to a growth mindset, it’s important to encourage them to ask for help.

To encourage this you’ll need to model this behavior at home or in the classroom using growth mindset language. Instead of saying, ‘I can’t do this,’ say ‘I can do this, but I just need some help with this, or I just have a few questions.’ Modeling this language regularly will help them to switch to a growth mindset language.

To encourage them further, you can make them aware of the resources that they have around them at their disposal, encouraging them to look online or find a book that could help them if they get stuck.

Give Alternatives

If you notice a child is struggling with a challenge or they are beginning to get frustrated, use alternatives to encourage problem-solving.

In the moment of frustration, start by having an open conversation with them about what they’re struggling with. Sympathize with them and have a discussion with them about the different ways they could tackle the problem. Doing this will help them develop skills of critical thinking, communication, and collaboration.

It’s also a great way of encouraging them to handle challenges by breaking them down into smaller chunks. This strategy can be used for any challenge such as tackling a homework assignment or working through a friendship crisis.

Encourage Perseverance

It’s important for children to build a level of resilience and perseverance for those times when they’re faced with challenges that they may find difficult to deal with.

In these situations, it’s important to encourage children to not give up when they are faced with a challenge and to be resilient even if what they are dealing with is difficult. Encourage them to see that challenges are positive and are windows of opportunity. Encouraging them to persevere in this way will help them to make a connection to see challenges as a part of learning.

Celebrate Mistakes

Children with a fixed mindset associated failure and making mistakes with shame and fear. These feelings are what hold them back when it comes to overcoming setbacks.

The next time your child experiences failure or makes a mistake, make light of the situation. Explain that everyone makes mistakes and that it’s nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. Reiterate that if we never make mistakes then we won’t learn and grow.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Some Examples Of A Fixed Mindset?

Someone with a fixed mindset is in a stagnant state and sees failure as a lack of intelligence. An example of a child with a fixed mindset:

  • Avoids challenges
  • Gives up easily
  • Sees putting in effort as pointless
  • Struggles to accept negative criticism
  • Feels threatened by the success of others

What Are Some Examples Of A Growth Mindset?

Someone with a growth mindset is motivated to learn and develop regardless of the challenges they might face. An example of a child with a growth mindset:

  • Embraces a challenge
  • Remains resilient after a setback
  • Sees putting in effort as a step towards success
  • Receives criticism and learns from it
  • Finds inspiration in the success of others

What Are The Benefits Of A Growth Mindset?

  • Increased self-confidence
  • Fewer psychological problems of anxiety and depression
  • Reduced burnout


If you’re worried that your child is exhibiting signs of having a fixed mindset, it’s not too late to make a change. The brain is ever-changing and malleable. Just as someone can grow and develop their intelligence and nurture their talents, they can also change the way that their brain functions and their thinking patterns.

A person with a fixed mindset can transition to a growth mindset by:

  • Challenging themselves to learn something new or throw themselves into a new experience.
  • Change their negative thoughts of ‘I can’t do this,’ or ‘it’s too hard,’ to ‘I can do this if I keep working at it.’
  • Incorporating rewards for effort.
  • Learning to accept feedback as constructive criticism.
  • Understanding that failures and setbacks are a natural and necessary part of the learning process.

A growth mindset can be nurtured and developed with time and effort. You can help your child to achieve this mindset by offering support, advice, and guidance to reinforce the point above.

With the information and tools available, you now have all you need to help your child make the shift towards a growth mindset. In doing so, you’ll see developments in self-confidence, problem-solving, and resilience.


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