At One with the Water, our swimming lessons are taught using growth-mindset techniques. We witness transformative miracles in our students, both in and out of the water, as they shift from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. People with a growth mindset learn to love challenges, are intrigued by mistakes, and intentionally seek out new challenges. They have learned that their circumstances matter less than who they are.
“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.” – Carol Dweck.
A core component of parenting and coaching in a manner that fosters a growth mindset is the language we use in giving positive feedback. It requires the most intention and retraining due to our current culture of reflexive praise. As a parent myself, I still find this the most difficult to remember in the moment as I go about the daily tasks of raising tiny humans.
Our natural tendency is to respond with a phrase like, “Good job!” While well-intentioned, using this type of expression does nothing to delineate the line between talent, effort, and results. Rather than giving children feedback about how their process of work led to a specific outcome so they can continue to develop their abilities, saying “Good job” implies an end state of success.
Growth Mindset Tools
Instead of saying “good job,” consider the following statements when your child/student is successful in his or her effort. (Source: Mindset Works Growth Mindset Feedback Tool)
- I am so proud of the effort you put forth.
- I am very proud of you for not giving up and look at what you have to show for it!
- Congratulations – you really used great strategies for (fill in the blank).
- I want you to remember for a moment how challenging this was when you began. Look at how far you have come!
- All that hard work and effort paid off!
- The next time you have a challenge like this, what will you do?
- What choices did you make that you think contributed to your success?
- It’s exciting to see the difference in your work now when we compare it to your earlier work.
- Doesn’t it feel good to master this? How does it feel to master this?
- Are you proud of yourself? Tell me what makes you most proud.
Remember that all our responses, growth or otherwise, will have a natural effect on the children we are raising and coaching. We must be using the correct ones.
Molly is a member of our creative team, mom of four water-loving babies, and a fierce advocate for CPR training and really early swim instruction.