Do you believe your intelligence and talents are set in stone?

Or, do you believe you can improve them with hard work, commitment, and good strategies? 

If you believe you can enhance your intelligence and abilities, you have a growth mindset. Conversely, if you think your potential is finite instead of fluid, you have a fixed mindset. 

Research has shown that children and adults can develop and improve their intelligence. The most critical factor is believing that intelligence results from hard work and study (Very Well Mind). Those who think this, enjoy learning because they know they can succeed with effort. This knowledge creates a positive cycle of perseverance and belief in oneself. 

A growth mindset for kids is essential in helping them become resilient and lifelong learners. It also has other benefits, including improving overall health and development (Harvard School of Education). 

This article will list and explain the qualities of a growth mindset for kids. Next, we will compare that to a fixed mindset. Then, we will share five ways to help children develop a growth mindset at home and school. 

Growth Mindset for Kids

It is critical to help instill a growth mindset in kids. The work begins at home, where children typically spend most of their time. If their home is a supportive, warm, and responsive place, children can focus on their intellectual development (Forbes). Therefore, having a stable, happy environment accelerates children’s learning ability. 

Children of all ages can develop a growth mindset. Here are some of the qualities we see in kids who have a growth mindset:

  • They have a passion for learning
  • High self-esteem
  • They tend to be open-minded
  • View failure as an opportunity for growth
  • Enjoy increased self-awareness
  • Believe effort leads to mastery
  • They can self-regulate  
  • Consider failures to be temporary setbacks
  • They have empathy for themselves and others
  • Willingly embrace change
  • They are emotionally resilient
  • View feedback as an opportunity to learn (Mindset Health).  

These qualities help children succeed in academics and other activities, even when faced with setbacks. 

How a Growth Mindset Increases Intelligence 

Happy, studious students Growth mindset for kids

A growth mindset can increase intelligence in a few different ways. A research study by Carol Dweck from Stanford included studying thousands of children for 30 years. Dr. Dweck separated them into two categories: those with a growth mindset and those with a fixed mindset. She discovered after years of research that our brains are malleable. 

Brain plasticity can improve and form new connections with practice while strengthening existing ones. This process of practice and growth rewires the brain to make people smarter; when students believe they can improve their intelligence, they put more effort into their learning. More significant effort leads to higher levels of achievement and success. 

Additionally, we can improve the speed of the transmission of information by having good habits. Some helpful practices include using good strategies, asking questions, healthy eating, and good sleep schedules (Mindset Works). Consequently, we have more control over our abilities than we may have initially believed. 

What is a Fixed Mindset? 

A fixed mindset believes that children are born smart or talented, and no amount of effort will change that. This belief is incredibly limiting. As a result, children with a fixed mindset did not have the same results as those with a growth mindset.

A fixed mindset negatively impacts children’s resilience, academics, relationships, and other areas. It makes them less resilient because they believe they can’t improve. These children may develop negative thinking patterns and have a deep fear of failure or making mistakes. They typically avoid challenges, give up quickly, and feel threatened by other people’s success. 

How to Teach Students to Develop a Growth Mindset

Students working

Teaching a growth mindset for students is essential for their success. Here are five ways to teach a growth mindset for children at home or in the classroom. 


  1. Have established routines.

Routines are important because they give children stability and structure. This predictable family and classroom climate supports child development and academic success (Forbes).  


2. Give specific feedback. 


Researchers discovered that the type of feedback children receive matters. When encouraging a growth mindset, praise children for their effort and hard work. Resist the temptation to praise children by telling them that they are “smart,” as doing so encourages kids to believe in a fixed mindset, decreasing motivation and achievement. (Mindset Works). You can praise children for their effort and work ethic instead! 


  3. Erase the word “can’t” from your classroom.


Take away the word “can’t” and replace it with the phrase: “yet” (6seconds). The word can’t is dangerous because it discourages children from trying. Instead of allowing your students to say, “I can’t read,” encourage them to say, “I can’t read yet.” This change encourages kids to believe they WILL learn to read with enough time and effort. 


  4. Model a growth mindset for your students. 


It’s important to talk aloud while you’re going through challenges so your students can hear how you handle them. For example, you can say, “I’m struggling to finish this task, but I’ll complete it.” Such sentiments exemplify a growth mindset. 


Other phrases you can avoid include, “I can’t do this,” or “it’s too hard.” Continue to show a growth mindset, and eventually, your students will emulate.


     5. Teach children about the brain. 


Teach your students about the parts of the brain responsible for learning. Understanding the mechanics of the mind helps children know that they can improve their brains with practice and dedication. Also, teach that it is possible to become smarter with effort. 


You can use the following lessons as a guide:


Two lesson plans for elementary: #1 and #2

Lesson plan for middle school #1 and #2

Lesson plan for high school


Final Words


Children can improve their intelligence with dedication and effort. A growth mindset allows children to reach their full potential and their goals. The most successful people are lifelong learners, resilient, and view failure as room for growth. Teaching this skill to children empowers them with the tools they need to have a bright future. 


Soul Shoppe provides social emotional learning programs such as positive parenting programs, SEL programs for elementary schools, a peacemakers program, online courses, corporate training, and more.


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Sources:, Focused Kids, Forbes, Growth Mind Institute, Harvard, Harvard School of Education, Mawi Learning, Mindset Health, Mindset Works, Very Well Mind