Skip to content

What is growth mindset?

By Amanda Morin

Growth mindset describes a way of viewing challenges and setbacks. People who have a growth mindset believe that even if they struggle with certain skills, their abilities aren’t set in stone. They think that with work, their skills can improve over time. 

People with the opposite belief — that abilities are what they are and won’t change — have a fixed mindset. They think their skills won’t improve no matter how hard they try.

The mindsets aren’t set in stone. People may have a growth mindset at certain times and a fixed mindset at others. They may have different approaches to different challenges. And their mindset may change over time.

Having a growth mindset can have real benefits. It helps people reframe their approach to challenges and stay motivated to work to improve skills. Instead of thinking “I can’t do this,” they think “I can’t do it yet.

The theory of growth mindset isn’t new. It came out of research by psychologist Carol Dweck and her colleagues. Their research focused on kids. But the concept applies to adults, too.

Growth mindset isn’t something that people are always born with. Kids and adults can develop the belief that things that are hard to do now may not always be hard.

Dive deeper

Myths about growth mindset

There’s been a lot of research into growth mindset. But there are still misconceptions about what it is and isn’t. Here are some common myths — and truths.

Myth 1: You either have it or you don’t. Not true. We all have a mix of fixed and growth mindsets that change based on our experiences and the feedback we get.

Myth 2: Growth mindset is about being positive. It’s more than that. Growth mindset means taking feedback, learning from experience, and coming up with strategies for improving.

Myth 3: Praise builds a growth mindset. It depends what you’re praising. The important thing is how a person approached a challenge, not how hard they worked, or how successful they were.  

Learn about strengths that come from taking on challenges .

Growth mindset and learning and thinking differences

We all have times when we feel like we’ll never get better at something or that we’re destined to fail at particular tasks. But people who learn and think differently often face more setbacks than other people.

They usually know when they’re not doing as well as others and may doubt their ability to improve. They may feel judged or criticized. And that can make them feel insecure or defensive, which can get in the way of growth.

Having a growth mindset has a big impact on how people approach challenges and how they feel about themselves.

Learn about the importance of positive self-esteem .

How to develop a growth mindset

A big part of having a growth mindset is not letting setbacks keep you from working to improve. It’s important to remember that setbacks can actually provide a way forward.

A key to making progress and moving forward is self-advocacy. Speaking up when something isn’t working and asking for support can lead to solutions. And that can lead to improvement.

Self-advocacy develops over time. Kids can start learning and practicing the skills at a young age. The earlier that happens, the better. But people can build self-advocacy skills at any age.

Download some growth mindset activities that can help kids and teens start thinking “What’s next?” and “I can.”

And learn more about self-advocacy and how to develop it .

Tell us what interests you

Tell us what interests you

Select the topics you want to learn more about

Share

Did you know we have a community app for parents?

Download Wunder on the App Store

Share What is growth mindset?

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Email
  • Text Message
  • Coming soonGoogle Classroom

Share What is growth mindset?

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Email
  • Text Message
  • Coming soonGoogle Classroom