Parents who think failure is harmful to learning have children who think ability is fixed

Posted on June 13, 2016

So far, there's been a lot of attention on how to praise children (it's better to focus on their effort and strategies rather than their ability), but not much else. Surprisingly, parents' mindsets (growth or fixed) do not seem to be related to their children's mindsets. A new study in Psychological Science suggests this is because children can't tell what kind of mindset their parents have. Rather, children's beliefs about ability are associated with how their parents' view failure.

The Stanford University psychologists Kyla Haimovitz and Carol Dweck began by surveying 73 parent-child pairs. Parents' and children's attitudes to ability were not related. But parents who saw failure as a chance to learn tended to have children who had a growth mindset, whereas parents who saw failure as more negative and bad for learning tended to have children with a fixed mindset.

Why is parental attitude toward failure seemingly more important than their attitude toward ability? It's to do with what's visible to children. Further surveys of more children and their parents suggested that children don't know whether their parents have a growth or fixed mindset, but they are aware of their parents' attitudes toward failure. Moreover, children who think their parents have a negative attitude to failure tend themselves to believe that ability and intelligence are fixed.

This seems to be because parents with a negative attitude toward failure respond to their children's setbacks in characteristic ways, such as comforting them and telling them that it doesn't matter that they lack ability, that are likely to foster in children the belief that their ability is fixed. Parents with a more positive attitude to failure, by contrast, tend to encourage their children to use failures as a chance to learn or get extra help – approaches that encourage a growth mindset.

To read the full article, click the link below.


Category(s):Family Problems, Learning Difficulties

Source material from Research Digest


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