Have you heard of it? Perhaps you have seen it on a poster in your kid's classroom, or seen a blog or motivational post on Facebook or Instagram. It's a fairly big idea in popular psychology at the moment, based on Carol Dweck's book "Mindset".
In a nutshell, a Growth Mindset refers to the idea that our abilities and knowledge can be developed. We can get smarter, do better, and achieve greater through putting in time and effort. This is in contrast to a Stuck Mindset, which refers to the idea that abilities and understandings are relatively fixed; aka, you either have it or you don't.
Why is this so important in parenting? Well, for starters, if we have a growth mindset we have more confidence to try again when we fail at something, we change direction when we realise we were stuck, and we ask for help when we need it. A growth mindset is more than thinking positive thoughts, or even having flexible thoughts. It's also more than just praising and rewarding effort, and it's definitely not enough by itself - even the strongest growth mindset needs to be backed up by taking action.
So what does a growth mindset look like in parents?
👉Thinking about the underlying cause of a parenting challenge, finding a new way, and applying that new way next time
👉Considering parenting difficulties as an opportunity to grow, rather than admitting defeat or concluding that it's just not your cup of tea
👉Adopting a curious attitude toward parenting and embracing opportunities to learn
👉Creating a belief in yourself, in your own parenting skills and abilities, and your capacity to change
👉Rewarding your parenting actions rather than your parenting traits
👉Being ok with being vulnerable and taking feedback, then committing to growth and taking pride in all your hard work and effort.
I challenge you to notice your stuck parenting thoughts and flip them into a growth thought (and then take action on this!).
How do you feel about your parenting from this point onward, once this happens?
Olivia Boer is a Clinical Psychologist and Director of Healthy Mind Centre Launceston, a private allied health practice in Launceston, Tasmania.