Praising your children for their effort rather than their intellect is called having a growth mindset. It’s the mindset that gets your kids to push through when the going gets tough which will in turn help them to achieve their dreams.

My five year old got me thinking about this when he wanted to play handball. He so wanted to give up because he felt frustrated every time the ball bounced passed him. “Why can’t I hit it like the big boys can?!” All I had in my vocabulary to cheer him on was:

“Keep trying.”

“You’ll get there.”

“Don’t give up.”

I have since discovered alternative things I can say to motivate him to keep trying:

“I could see you were really concentrating then.”

“I’ve noticed you have been working hard to get in the right position in the square.”

“You did your best and you didn’t give up then.”

Kids who believe they can grow their basic abilities have what’s called a growth mindset. On the other hand, kids who believe their intellect and abilities are fixed have a fixed mindset.  Using growth mindset talk with your kids – like some of the alternative quotes above – is vital for three reasons:

  1. It increases motivation
  2. It creates productivity
  3. It enhances relationships

Dweck. C. S (2008). Mindset. The new psychology of success. New York: Ballantine Books