“I can’t do this!”, my son said as he angrily put the small book he was trying to read back in his book box. “And I don’t even want to do it!”
I knew that he didn’t really mean that, but I also knew that learning how to read felt hard and frustrating for him! It was the beginning of online learning after the school closures, and we both struggled to adjust to all the changes.
I quickly realized that insisting on reading that book would only make things worse, so for the rest of the morning we focused on other school assignments.
Then, after lunch, something unexpected happened.
My son came to me with the little book in his hands, and asked me how long it will take for him to learn how to read stories on his own.
“I don’t know”, I answered. “But the more you practice, the better you’ll get at it!”
“I don’t know all the words yet”, he said, “but I will know them someday. And I’ll keep trying like the girl with the magnificent thing!”
I couldn’t help smiling when I heard him mention the magnificent thing. He was talking about a book we used to read a lot when he was younger, about a girl who wants to build something magnificent and keeps trying even after failing several times.
“That sounds like a great plan!”, I replied. “When should we start?”
“Right now!”, he said as he sat on his desk and opened the book.
As I watched him doing his best to read all the words in the book, I felt so proud of him for not giving up!
Because the truth is that kids will inevitably face struggles as they grow up. And what will make a difference in those moments is their ability to keep trying when things get hard. To overcome challenges and learn from failures. To be resilient and perseverant even if they face obstacles along the way!
This is why helping kids develop a growth mindset is so important!
I first started talking about this topic with my son a few years ago, but I fully realized the great impact it had on him only after he started school.
Now we talk about growth mindset even more, because I know that developing this mindset can make a big difference in his life!
The best growth mindset activities for kids
I wrote more about growth mindset and its importance in this article, but today I want to share with you the best growth mindset activities and resources we discovered in the last years.
They will help you teach your kids about growth mindset and encourage them to develop their resilience and confidence!
These ideas worked great for us, and I hope you’ll find them helpful as well!
1. Printable growth mindset activities for kids
Talking about growth mindset with your kids is even more effective (and fun) if you do it in a playful way.
The Growth Mindset Printables Kit (for ages 5-10) is my favorite resource for teaching kids about the growth mindset.
It includes worksheets, posters, activities, and coloring pages designed to help kids become more resilient, see their mistakes as opportunities to learn, and overcome the fear of failure.
The Growth Mindset Activity Kit (for ages 4-10) includes 25 engaging activities that teach kids how to develop a growth mindset and other important life skills.
The activities are fun and easy to prepare, and they give kids the opportunity to build resilience, boost their creativity, and grow their brains!
The Famous Failures Kit (for ages 5-14) is a great collection of worksheets highlighting famous people from around the world who have failed and struggled on their way to success.
It provides great opportunities to teach kids that failure is a normal part of the learning process and encourage them to keep trying when facing challenges.
2. Read books that promote a growth mindset
Books is a wonderful tool to use to inspire kids to be more confident, resilient, and perseverant. And they are also a great way to start meaningful conversations about growth mindset with your kids. Here are some of our favorite growth mindset books for kids: 1 – Beautiful Oops! – a lovely book that will teach kids to see mistakes as opportunities and turn them into discoveries. 2 – Your Fantastic Elastic Brain: Stretch It, Shape It – one of the most powerful growth mindset books for kids that will teach them how the brain works and how it grows anytime they learn new things. 3 – She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World – a wonderful book sharing the stories of 13 American women who changed the world. 4 – Flight School – a lovely story about a penguin who is determined to fly and doesn’t let anything stop him from following his dream. 5 – The Most Magnificent Thing – an inspiring story that will show kids that perseverance can help them accomplish what they want and transform their ideas into reality.
3. Create an Accomplishment Jar (an easy growth mindset activity for kids)
When kids struggle to learn something new, looking back at all the hard things they managed to learn in the past is a great way to motivate them to keep trying.
An easy idea that will help kids celebrate their accomplishments and feel more confident about their abilities is creating an Accomplishment Jar.
To create it, you will need a jar (or a box), slips of paper, and a label for your child to design and add on the jar.
Start by inviting your child to think about things they couldn’t do in the past but they managed to learn by practicing and not giving up. (e.g, riding a bike, playing a sport, learning a new skill at school, etc)
Write each of these accomplishments on one slip of paper and add them in your child’s jar. After creating the jar, invite your child to add new accomplishments in the jar every week (even if they are only small accomplishments).
From time to time, take out all the slips of paper from the jar, read the accomplishments and celebrate them with your child.
This will make them feel proud about themselves and help them become more confident in their ability to learn new things.
4. Teach kids about how their brain works
This is such a powerful way to show kids that they are capable of learning new things all the time!
Knowing that they can “grow” their brain anytime they try something new will empower kids to develop their skills without feeling discouraged when facing obstacles. I love the idea of seeing the brain as a “muscle” that gets stronger the more we learn and practice new skills, because it’s such an easy way to help kids visualize the development of their brain.
5. Teach kids about the power of “yet”
When kids feel like they can’t do something, a powerful way to change their perspective is rephrasing their statements using the word “yet”.
When a child says “I can’t ride my bike” telling them “You can do it” doesn’t help because it only invalidates their feelings and makes them feel even worse.
Instead, telling them “You can’t ride your bike yet, but you can learn how to do it” is a great way to reflect a growth mindset and teach them to reframe their thoughts.
Another helpful activity to try with your kids is creating a list of positive alternatives for the things we say when we are stuck in a fixed mindset.
Here are some examples:
instead of “I’m not good at this”, try “I’m not good at this yet, but I can get better if I practice”
instead of “This is too hard”, try “I can grow my brain when I try hard things”
instead of “I can’t do this, I give up” try “I can try again with a different strategy or ask for help from others”.
Display the list in your child’s room and use it as a reminder anytime you see them struggling to learn new things.
6. Use a journal to encourage kids to develop a growth mindset
A growth mindset journal is a great tool for encouraging kids to believe in themselves and face challenges with confidence.
Using the journal together (as “journal buddies”) is a wonderful way to connect with your kids, listen to their thoughts and feelings, and get to know them better.
The Big Life Journal is one of the most popular growth mindset journals for kids.
It’s designed for kids ages 7-10 and it looks wonderful (you can see a video showing what’s inside the journal here).
The Big Life Journal (daily edition) is a science-based journal that helps kids grow resilient, confident, and emotionally healthy.
This journal is very fun to use! The daily activities helped us start many meaningful conversations about mindset, resilience, gratitude, self-love, and confidence, and we really enjoy using the journal together!
7. Use personal stories to encourage your kids, boost their confidence, and promote a growth mindset
Having regular conversations with your kids about challenges, mistakes, and resilience will offer you great opportunities to connect with your child, listen to their thoughts and concerns, and help them develop a growth mindset.
Here are some things you can include in these conversations:
Tell stories from your own childhood when you faced challenges and overcome them.
Tell stories about the mistakes you made and what you learned from them.
Invite the child to tell you about the challenges or struggles that they face. Help them come up with a strategy to cope with these challenges.
Ask the child about the progress they made in learning new things.
Tell your child about moments when you noticed that they are trying hard to do something new. Praise their effort and let them know that you’re proud of their progress.
Discuss a situation when the child has overcome a challenge. Ask them how this felt.
Make a list of things that your child would like to learn. Then follow up on the progress and celebrate the progress.
If you notice some negative self-talk in your child, discuss how they feel and help them find positive ways to rephrase their thoughts.
Making time to just sit down with your child and talk about these topics can make such a big difference in their life!
Helping kids develop a growth mindset is one of the most valuable skills we can teach them! It will help them manage challenges easier, and feel more confident in their abilities not only at school, but also later in life.
I hope you and your kids will enjoy trying the ideas on our list!
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