You desperately want your kids to succeed academically in school and in college so they can have a shot at lifetime career success—but cajoling and hovering and pushing them is just so exhausting.
Here’s fantastic help that will take you under two minutes to implement.
According to world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck (who’s done decades of high-level research on achievement and success), the difference between academic and career success and academic and career mediocrity boils down to whether the child has a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.
Carol Dweck describes the difference between these two mindsets this way:
“In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. They’re wrong.
In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities.”
This is fantastic in and of itself, but here’s even better news.
As Richard Nisbett explains in his book Intelligence and How to Get It, something else quite remarkable happened when Dweck and her colleagues set out to convince students to have a growth mindset:
“Dweck and her colleagues . . . tried to convince a group of poor minority junior high school students that intelligence is highly malleable and can be developed by hard work . . . that learning changes the brain by forming new . . . connections and that students are in charge of this change process. The results? Convincing students that they could make themselves smarter by hard work led them to work harder and get higher grades. But—”
Now read this carefully—
“Improving grades was not the most dramatic effect. Dweck reported that some of her tough junior high school boys were reduced to tears by the news that their intelligence was substantially under their control. “It is no picnic going through life believing you were born dumb—and are doomed to stay that way. For almost everyone, believing that you were born dumb—and are doomed to stay that way—is believing a lie. IQ itself can improve with hard work.”
I challenge you to do this with your child tonight.
Tonight, before bed or at the dinner table, talk excitedly with your child or teen about this idea that intelligence and talent can improve through focus and hard work. Tell your child that decades of brain research is backing this up. Tell your child that you, yourself, are excited to tackle some new things and work hard to get good at them. Repeat this conversation a couple of times during the next month.
If an underperforming child or teen is causing you extraordinary worry at this time, see the additional very helpful post I wrote on this subject here.
If you love this idea and want to dive deeper into it, do this:
Read this outstanding article on the seven ways Montessori teachers intentionally encourage growth mindset in young children. Everything in the article applies beautifully to teens and college students!
Also see my article on How to Skyrocket the Growth of Your Teen’s Brain.
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When you’re a parent, it feels great to know that you’re taking practical steps to set your kid up for successful college and career life.
For clear, step-by-step help getting your kids through college debt-free and into careers they love afterward, it takes only 7 hours to read my book:
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Read just one chapter of LAUNCH every 1–3 months while your child’s in middle school and high school, and you’ll know every viable strategy for debt-free college at exactly the right time to implement it.
And if your child’s already well past middle school? That’s OK; you can run to catch up. But the process of getting your kids through college debt-free goes more smoothly the earlier you start it—especially if you’re not planning to save up any money to pay for college.
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What about you? What strategies have you found for helping students to believe that they can achieve?
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Who is Jeannie Burlowski?
Jeannie is a full-time academic strategist, podcast host, and sought-after speaker for students ages 12–26 and their parents and grandparents. Her writing, speaking, and podcasting help parents set their kids up to graduate college debt-free and move directly into careers they excel at and love. Her work has been featured in publications such as The Huffington Post, USA Today, NerdWallet, and US News and World Report, and on CBS News.