Growth Mindset is a term that comes from the research of Dr. Carol Dweck, a psychologist. After years of studying children, she differentiated children by those with a fixed mindset vs. those with a growth mindset.
In a fixed mindset, children believe that intelligence and talent are fixed traits. There is nothing to do to change them. One might be a talented musician, or not. One might be a creative thinker, or not. One might be really smart, or not.
With a growth mindset, children believe that they have the power to change through hard work. Teaching growth mindset creates motivation for putting in extra effort, a passion for learning, and ultimately higher achievement.
So, what does this idea of having a growth mindset have to do with children with hearing loss? Well, in general, we want all children to develop a growth mindset, including those with hearing loss. But, additionally, children with hearing loss have greater challenges to face by the nature of their disability. We need them to develop a growth mindset to face these challenges and become their best selves. We don’t want them to ever give up or give in to the fixed mindset of others, who might have low expectations, based upon prior experiences or a prior set of thoughts about hearing loss.
With technology today, these “old” thoughts about the limited abilities of children with hearing loss are obsolete. Our children with hearing loss have so much potential! So, how can we develop a growth mindset right from the start? This will set the child up for thinking optimistically, rather than having to change their thinking, when things go wrong. Wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have to undo things, but could just teach this way of thinking from early on?
In the book A Mindset for Learning, by Kristine Mraz and Christine Hertz, they talk about the five stances of mindset. They are: optimism, flexibility, resilience, persistence and empathy.
Optimism—At the outset of a new or difficult task, it is important to have optimism. A child should be able to begin a task feeling hopeful that he has what it takes. The child should be thinking “I can do this” rather than, “This looks hard”. And even if the child doesn’t seem to be having success, we want them to be thinking, “I know I have the ability!”
Flexibility—When working on a task, and a child isn’t being successful, the child needs to be flexible with her thinking to try a different way. Instead of saying “I just can’t do this,” the child needs to be thinking, “This isn’t working, what else can I try?”
Resilience— It is necessary for children to be resilient because they need to be able to bounce back when they have failed. The resilient child doesn’t get down and withdraw from a task, but goes back and tries again. Instead of saying, “I give up,” the resilient child will say, “I’m gonna try again. I think I’ll get it this time.”
Persistence—The persistent child does not give up and sticks to a task, trying different ways. It’s with persistence that success cones. The child who is persistent says “Even though I am getting frustrated, if I stick with it longer, I know I’ll get it.”
Empathy—Although this mindset is a little different from the others, it is just as important. Empathy is the ability to step into another person’s shoes, understanding that person’s feelings. With empathy, we learn to step back and understand the challenge another person is facing. Rather than just taking over and helping right away, we can give that child a chance to be flexible and persistent. The child can say, “I know what it’s like to struggle, but he can do it!”
Teaching these mindsets to our children with hearing loss is important so that they can continue to grow and learn and reach their utmost potential. By incorporating this language into your everyday experiences, it will become part of your child’s mindset from early on.
Here are a few books for each mindset to help get you started.
Elephants Cannot Dance by Mo Willems
Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses by James Dean
Good News, Bad News by Jeff Mack
Going Places by Peter Reynolds
But Excuse Me That is My Book by Lauren Child
Perfect Square by Michael Hall
Chester’s Way by Kevin Henkes
I Don’t Want to be a Pea by Ann Bonwill
Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg
First Grade Dropout by Audrey Vernick
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
A Splash of Red:The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jennifer Bryant
Little One Step by Simon James
Ernest, the Moose Who Doesn’t Fit by Catherine Rayner
Flight School by Lita Judge
I Wanna Iguana by Karen Kaufman Orloff
The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig
Otis and the Scarecrow by Loren Long
Stand in My Shoes by Bob Sornson
Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts