Growth Vs Fixed Mindset in Teens and How That Can Affect Their Stress Level

During the decades-long research of achievement and success, world-renowned Stanford University psychologist and researcher Carol Dweck developed an idea of growth vs fixed mindset. According to Dweck, the distinction between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset can explain the difference in our performance and life success.

The growth mindset is a motivating force that creates opportunities for success in all areas of life. People with a growth mindset are not afraid of challenges and obstacles. They rather see challenges as opportunities for learning and progress. Furthermore, growth-mindset people are lifetime learners who believe that their intelligence and skills can develop and advance with effort.

On the other hand, those with a fixed mindset tend to avoid efforts and usually give up easily when confronted with challenges in life. They believe that people are born with fixed traits, abilities, and intelligence that cannot be changed or improved.

How Can Change in Mindset Benefit Teens?

Research shows that a change in mindset could reduce teens’ social stress. A recent study confirmed that only half an hour of training can help adolescents relax, cope better with stress and even improve school performance. This study suggests that parents and teachers can use simple strategies to convince teens to think more flexibly and nurture the growth mindset.

Another study that examined the effect of growth mindset on school engagement and students’ well-being showed that resilience plays a role of a mediator between growth mindset, psychological well-being school engagement. Their results suggest that resilience may be crucial in improving both the psychological well-being of students and their school performance.

Teens with the growth mindset are curious and ready to take healthy risks. For example, instead of thinking, “I am not smart enough”, they think, “I will learn how to do this.” They are focused on learning and see mistakes as learning opportunities, so they are less anxious and do not suffer from as much stress. Teenagers with a growth-oriented mindset are constantly stimulating their brains with new challenges which further improves their learning skills. Also, growth mindset teens handle constructive criticism well because they are constantly focused on improving themselves.

The Powerful Word: “Yet”

According to Carol Dweck, integrating the word “yet” in their vocabulary helps teenagers not to give up when faced with challenges, it boosts their confidence and creates positive habits. Sentences like “I can’t do this…yet, I am not good at this…yet, I haven’t met new friends…yet” provide hope, motivation, and encouragement.

How to Promote a Growth Mindset?

If your teenager has a fixed mindset, do not despair. The growth mindset can be taught. And as parents and teachers, we can do a lot to help teens develop a growth mindset. Here is what you can do:

  •  Encourage the effort and praise a teenager for their efforts, not results.

  • Teach them to value the process over the results.

  • Show empathy when they put effort but do not do well.

  • Be a role model with your growth mindset.

  • Provide regular feedback and opportunities for reflection.

  • Teach a teenager to see stressful situations as challenges to overcome.

  • Encourage teenagers to add “yet” to their sentences.

  • Show them examples of a growth mindset – there are examples of people and situations changing when it seemed impossible everywhere around us!

  • Practice mindfulness exercises and other relaxation techniques together.

  • Encourage healthy risk-taking behaviors such as meeting new people, trying new sports, accepting more responsibilities at home and school, studying abroad, etc.

  • Teach them to acknowledge and embrace the imperfections and learn from mistakes.