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Can praise alter your child’s mindset? (DW#380)

family parenting Apr 27, 2018

The findings from Dweck’s mindset studies are especially important for parents and educators. 

In one study of students, Dweck and her colleagues gave students challenging IQ problems. For the results the researchers offered two types of praise: some students were told "Wow, you got [X many] right. That’s a really good score. You must be smart at this," while others were told, "Wow, you got [X many] right. That’s a really good score. You must have worked really hard." In other words, some students were praised for ability and others were praised for effort.

The researchers found that praise which focused on ability or outcome of test pushed students into the fixed mindset, and they showed all the signs of a fixed mindset: when given a choice, they rejected a challenging new task that they could learn from. They didn’t want to do anything that could expose their shortcomings and call into question their talent.

The students who were praised for their effort...

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How does the young person in your life respond to feedback? (DW#379)

While doing research with children, Dweck and her colleagues found that mindset predicted how a child would respond to feedback and correction.

Children displaying a fixed mindset only paid attention to feedback that reflected directly on their present ability. For example, they paid attention and lit up when they were told how smart they were. 

On the other hand, they tuned out or ignored information that would help them learn and improve. The research showed that children with a fixed-mindset showed no interest in learning the right answer when they had gotten a question wrong on a test or a quiz, presumably because they had already filed it away in the failure category. 

Those children with a growth mindset on the other hand, were eager to learn and correct their mistakes. They paid keen attention to information that could help them expand their existing knowledge and skill, regardless of whether they’d gotten the question right or wrong. The researchers concluded...

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Mindsets in children (DW#378)

We have been discussing mindsets and how they manifest themselves from a very early age.

Dweck and her colleagues did some research with four year olds. The researchers gave the four year olds a choice between easy and challenging puzzles. Those with growth mindsets chose the more challenging puzzles whilst the toddlers with a fixed mindset chose the easier and therefore safer puzzles. 

According to the researchers’ conclusion, choosing the easy puzzles was an affirmation of their existing ability and the belief that smart children don’t make mistakes. The children with the growth mindset on the other hand, did not want to do the same puzzle over and over again, preferring to learn something new, even if was more challenging and they may not get it right on the first try. 


The researchers therefore concluded that the fixed-mindset children wanted to make sure they succeeded so that they would appear intelligent, whereas the growth-mindset ones wanted to challenge...

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What is your internal dialogue? (DW#377)

Since our mindset is "an interpretative process that tells us what is going on around us", it not only helps us make sense of the world and how it works, it also determines how we engage with the world. 

According to Dweck, one of the ways we can determine our mindset is by noticing the internal dialogue that goes on in our minds. 

She explains that in a fixed mindset, there is an internal monologue of constant judging and evaluation, and every piece of information is used as evidence either for or against the assessment of whether you’re a good person, whether you are smart or talented enough, whether your partner is selfish, or whether you are better than the person next to you. 

In a growth mindset, on the other hand, the internal monologue is not one of judgment but one of learning and curiosity. The feedback from the environment (including things that have not gone well) is used as information on learning how you can do better next time. 

So let us...

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What is your belief around failure? [DW#376]

We have been talking about Carol Dweck’s book Mindset and the value of reflecting on our own mindsets. 

Dweck explains that "When you enter a mindset, you enter a new world. In one world — the world of fixed traits — success is about proving you’re smart or talented. Validating yourself. In the other — the world of changing qualities — it’s about stretching yourself to learn something new. Developing yourself.

In one world, failure is about having a setback. Getting a bad grade. Losing a tournament. Getting fired. Getting rejected. It means you’re not smart or talented. In the other world, failure is about not growing. Not reaching for the things you value. It means you’re not fulfilling your potential.

In one world, effort is a bad thing. It, like failure, means you’re not smart or talented. If you were, you wouldn’t need effort. In the other world, effort is what makes you smart or...

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Why does your mindset matter? (DW#375)

Carol Dweck believes that the mindsets that we have been exploring are manifested from a very early age. And they determine to a large extent, our behavior, our relationship with success and failure in professional and personal contexts and ultimately our capacity for happiness itself. 

She writes: "For twenty years, my research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value. How does this happen? How can a simple belief have the power to transform your psychology and, as a result, your life"?

She goes on to explain that because people with growth mindsets are willing to try different things they are more likely to discover talents that they were unaware of. Because they believe that everyone can change and grow though application and experience they have a sense of hope and personal agency. 

Also because people...

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Personal growth begins in the mind (DW#374)

What do you believe about your ability to grow and progress in your life?

Do you believe that you can and must grow in every area of your life? Or do you believe that you are born with a certain set of talents and abilities that are fixed? 

Do you think or say things like "I am too old to change" or "That’s just the way I am" or "Some people are just born that way" or "I could never do that"? 

Do you believe that the reason that some people are smarter or more successful than you is because they have "what it takes" in their area of success and you don’t?


Science is telling us that the way we think about our ability to grow (or not) has a major impact on all areas of our lives. 

Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. is one of the leading researchers in the field of motivation and is a renowned Professor at Stanford University. In her recent and highly acclaimed book, Mindset, she employs rigorous science to help us understand why we do what we do. 

She explains...

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The choice between growth and stagnation (DW#373)

One lesson that we can learn from nature is that there is no standing still. 

Change is an integral part of any living thing. In the medical world, in fact, the clinical definition of death is a body that does not change. In other words, change is a sign of life and the lack of change signifies death. 

There are, of course, two types of change in a living organization – there is either growth or there is decline and decay. A living organization’s life span is birth, growth, reaching its peak, decaying and then dying. 

For personal growth, we can use a similar metaphor: we can grow towards maturity and wisdom, reaching our full potential or we can fall into decay towards a metaphorical "death". Just like in nature, there is no standing still. 

Let us take a moment to reflect on which areas of our life are in a growth phase and which are in stagnation or decay. 

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Spring is springing. Are you? (DW#372)

I love spring. 

Something changes in the air – at the beginning of spring the change is very subtle, especially in Canada, where the start of spring is often marked by winter resisting the change in season and stubbornly refusing to leave. Yet the days are getting longer, there is hope in the air and there is the promise of warmer days to come. 

The earth is ripe with potential in the spring, even if the ground appears to be covered with snow at the moment. Soon it will begin to whisper and tiny hints of green will begin to appear amid the bareness of winter. Once the first shoots come out, the growth will be rapid. Each morning presenting a new display of the glory of nature and the lessons we can learn from it. 

Spring is the perfect time for personal growth and renewal as well. As nature wakes up, lets wake up ourselves up as well and reflect on what potential is lying dormant within us, waiting for the tiniest bit of encouragement to begin to unfold and grow as...

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The choice that will determine the future of your marriage (DW#371)

Both happy and unhappy marriages have one thing in common: there are times when things are not going so well.

During such a period, there is a major choice point for you. According to research by Dr. Gottman and others (of 40,000+ couples), how you think and what you do during this time will determine the future of your relationship: 

The betrayal choice: 
When things go badly 

  • Don’t voice complaints to partner
  • Instead:
    • Keep them in the dark about how you are feeling
    • Trash partner to others
    • Make negative comparisons –
"I could do better elsewhere"
  • Nurture resentment for what is missing rather than what is present
  • According to research by Rusbult: negative comparisons are the
beginning of the cascade toward infidelity


The commitment choice
When things don’t go well, 

  • Voice complaints to partner & work it out
  • Cherish partner and recognize the investment that you both have in the relationship
  • Nurture gratitude for what you have...
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