In Mindset, Carol Dweck describes how our frame of mind influences the way we act, work, parent, and achieve success. I gained an incredible amount of insight from Mindset that is changing the way I look at my own life and how I speak to my children. The premise of the book is that people can choose the mindset they use to interpret their situations, and that mindset can be helpful or a hindrance.
Although I learned a lot about myself from reading this book (for example, that you can have a growth mindset in some areas but a fixed mindset in others, and also that it’s possible to change your mindset) I found the most help from the section on parenting and teaching. I was definitely challenged to change some of the ways I talk to the children about their accomplishments and effort, so that I can encourage them to be growth minded about their day to day learning and life.
For example, the book mentions how harmful it is to heap praise on kids for their accomplishments. This can lead to children thinking they are EITHER smart or dumb, EITHER good artists or bad artists, EITHER good at sports or not. Instead, the author points out the value of phrasing praise in terms of effort. “Wow, you worked so hard on that picture – you’re really improving as an artist!” helps the child keep working hard to improve rather than thinking they have to be perfect or quit. Dweck does a great job of explaining the various ways children evidence different mindsets, and gives helpful examples for how parents and teachers can assist in changing that mindset. Since reading this book I’ve been trying to emphasize that being smart and being good at art and sports and other things are processes rather than innate qualities. Although in much of life there are standards of measurement to determine if you’re smart or athletic or whatever, having a mindset of always putting in your best effort and getting better rather than giving up is a better and more effective attitude, I think.
Whether or not you’re a parent, I think this book would be really illuminating for you, and would be helpful in pointing out areas where you might need to shift your attitude as well as ways to deal with people who have fixed mindsets that are holding them back. I’d highly recommend it.
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