Growth Mindset Questions for Kids: Encourage and Motivate (Free PDF)

Written by Dr Lucy Russell DClinPsyc CPsychol AFBPsS
Dr Lucy Russell Clinical Psychologist Founder of They Are The Future
Author: Dr Lucy Russell, Clinical Psychologist

In this article, I’ll explore the transformative power of growth mindset questions for children. We will look at a variety of examples.

I will recommend practical strategies and insightful questions designed to increase resilience, curiosity, and a love for learning.

Through real-life examples and expert advice, I will guide you on how to encourage and motivate your child to embrace challenges and thrive in their personal and academic journeys.

close up of tween girl with swimming pool behind

Download Your FREE Growth Mindset Questions For Kids PDF Here

Why Growth Mindset Questions Are Crucial For Kids

In my 20 years as a clinical psychologist specializing in child and adolescent development, and as a mother of two, I’ve witnessed first-hand the transformative power of nurturing a growth mindset in young minds.

The journey through childhood and adolescence is peppered with moments of self-doubt and the daunting question of “Am I good enough?”.

It’s a universal challenge, yet it hits harder during the formative years.

Growth mindset is part of the new psychology of success by psychologist Carol Dweck.

It teaches us that our abilities and intelligence can be developed through hard work, positive reinforcement, and learning from our own mistakes.

It’s a powerful antidote to the rigid thinking that can limit a child’s potential, encouraging them to see challenges as opportunities to acquire new skills and achieve academic success.

Through my professional practice, and personal experiences at the dinner table with my own children, I’ve seen how the right questions and growth mindset activities can open up a world of possibilities.

We can prepare our children for a fulfilling life filled with new challenges, by teaching them the value of critical thinking.

Through growth mindset questions we can show them that every setback can be a starting point for personal growth.

happy young boy walking along a wall

How a Fixed Mindset Affects Your Child’s Happiness and Success

A fixed mindset, encapsulated in fixed mindset phrases like “I’m just not good at this,” is the idea that our abilities are static and unchangeable.

In contrast, a growth mindset revolves around the belief that our talents and abilities can be developed through hard work, effective strategies, and learning from feedback.

The transition from thinking “I can’t do this” to “I can’t do this yet is a profound shift that opens up a world of new possibilities.

Struggling with a new task doesn’t mean your child is failing. It means they’re learning, growing, and stretching their capabilities.

This positive change in perspective is the first step in a lifelong learning process.

TAKE THE QUIZ!

Growth Mindset Questions for Kids

Encouraging a growth mindset in children can be accelerated by asking the right questions that prompt them to think more deeply about their experiences and challenges.

These questions are designed not just to elicit responses, but to encourage reflection, resilience, and a willingness to embrace new challenges.

Here are some categorized questions that can help nurture a growth mindset:

Encouraging Curiosity and Learning

  • What’s something new you learned today, and how can you apply it next time?
  • Can you think of a fun conversation you had today that introduced you to new ideas?
  • What’s a topic or subject you’re curious about but haven’t explored yet?

Overcoming Challenges

  • What was hard today, but made you a better learner for trying?
  • When you think about the worst thing that happened today, what positive change can come from it?
  • Can you describe a problem you solved today, and how you approached it?

Building Resilience

  • Can you share a mistake you made and what you learned from it?
  • How did stepping out of your comfort zone today help your confidence?
  • What’s something you tried that didn’t work out as planned, and what would you do differently next time?
girl playing trumpet outdoors

Setting and Achieving Goals

  • What’s a small goal you set for yourself today, and how did you work towards it?
  • How did you use critical thinking or problem-solving skills to overcome an obstacle today?
  • What’s a larger goal you’re working towards, and what are the steps you’re taking to achieve it?

Reflecting on Personal Growth

  • How do you think you’ve changed or grown in the last year?
  • What’s a skill or talent you’ve developed recently, and how did you do it?

Growing Empathy and Understanding

  • Can you think of a time when you helped someone else overcome a challenge? How did it make you feel?
  • How do you think understanding others’ perspectives helps us develop?
teen boy looking lovingly at his cat

Cultivating Creativity and Innovation

  • What’s a creative solution you came up with for a problem or challenge recently?
  • How can looking at a situation from different angles lead to new solutions?

Using these questions as conversation starters, perhaps over the dinner table or as part of a bedtime routine, can have a profound impact.

These growth mindset questions encourage children to reflect on their day, recognize their efforts, and understand that learning from mistakes is a crucial part of the learning process.

Using Growth Mindset Questions With Your Kids

Integrating growth mindset questions into everyday life is going to be your most effective strategy for building their growth mindset .

Here are some practical tips for making these questions a natural part of your interactions with your child:

Make It a Daily Habit

Start or end each day by asking your child one or two growth mindset questions.

This can become a part of your daily routine, whether it’s during the dinner table conversation or as a bedtime reflection.

Encourage Journaling

Encourage your child to keep a journal where they can write or draw their responses to these questions.

For children who may find writing challenging, consider an audio journal where they can record their thoughts.

This not only helps them reflect but also allows them to see their growth over time.

Leading by Example

Children learn a great deal from observing the adults in their lives.

Share your own experiences with challenges and how you overcame them.

For example, talk about a new skill you’re learning or a time when you stepped out of your comfort zone. This shows your child that growth and learning are lifelong processes and keeping trying is the most important thing.

Creating a Growth Mindset Environment

Dot growth mindset posters around your home (for example, printouts of the growth mindset questions above or inspiring quotes).

Or, you could create a bulletin board where you and your child can post new ideas, positive affirmations, and achievements.

Visual reminders can be such a powerful motivator.

teen girl talking to her sports coach

Celebrating Effort Over Outcome

Make it a point to praise your child’s effort and strategy rather than just the end result. Consistently reinforce the principle that hard work and trying new strategies are more important than immediate success.

In my clinic, I often suggest families create a “What I Learned” wall. Family members can post sticky notes about new things they have tried, challenges they have faced, and what they have learned from them.

Case Studies: Growth Mindset in Children

Case Study 1: Embracing New Challenges at 8 Years Old

Sophie, an 8-year-old with a keen interest in art, often felt discouraged when her drawings didn’t turn out as she had pictured them in her mind.

Her parents introduced her to growth mindset questions, focusing on learning from the process rather than how the final result turns out.

For example, they asked, “What did you learn from this drawing that you can use next time?”

This shift in perspective encouraged Sophie to experiment with new techniques and styles, viewing each piece as a step in her artistic journey. Her confidence soared as she began to embrace each new challenge as an opportunity to grow.

fixed mindset a girl with crossed arms

Case Study 2: Overcoming Academic Hurdles at 15 Years Old

Jayden, a 15-year-old struggling with essay writing, often said, “I’m just not good at freeform writing.”

His parents and teachers worked together to change this fixed mindset phrase.

They asked him growth mindset questions like: “What strategies do others use to help them structure an essay that you could learn from?”, and “What are the areas of essay writing that you have improved in?”

Over time, Jayden started to approach essay writing with a more positive attitude. He realised that there was actually a formula he could apply to the process. This made it feel less overwhelming.

His academic performance improved, reflecting his newfound belief in his ability to learn and grow.

teen boy writing an essay

Case Study 3: Setting Personal Goals in High School

Emma, a 17-year-old high school student, felt overwhelmed by the pressure to decide on a career path.

Her careers advisor introduced her to growth mindset questions to help her explore her interests and abilities.

Questions like: “What small goal can you set for yourself this week to explore a potential career interest?” and “What new skills do you want to develop?”.

These growth mindset questions helped Emma see her future as a process and a series of learning experiences, rather than a fixed trajectory.

Emma realised she didn’t need to feel so pressured. She became more open to exploring new ideas and this reduced her anxiety about the future.

Growth Mindset Questions For Kids: A Lifetime of Growth

Cultivating a growth mindset in our children is perhaps one of the most valuable gifts we can offer our kids.

Having a fixed mindset can really hold your child back and stop them from feeling positive about their abilities.

It’s a foundation upon which they can build a lifetime of learning, resilience, and adaptability.

Try to integrate growth mindset questions into your daily interactions with your child. Encourage them to consider trying new challenges and to learn from their own experiences, whether good or bad.

As a parent, try your best to model these behaviors and attitudes that lead to personal and academic success, too.

Of course, we need to teach them that there’s no such thing as a wrong answer or a failure – only opportunities to learn and grow.

Both as a psychologist and a mother, I’ve seen the transformative power of a growth mindset and I have tried to adapt my own thinking style accordingly. It’s not always an easy task, but the end result is most definitely worth it.

When we use growth mindset questions our children learn to see themselves as effective learners and problem-solvers, capable of overcoming obstacles and reaching their personal goals.

Let’s commit to asking the right questions, providing positive reinforcement, and celebrating the effort as much as the achievement.

Together, we can ensure that our children approach life with the curiosity, resilience, and confidence that are the hallmarks of a growth mindset.

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Dr Lucy Russell is a UK clinical psychologist who works with children and families. Her work involves both therapeutic support and autism assessments. She is the Clinical Director of Everlief Child Psychology, and also worked in the National Health Service for many years. In 2019 Lucy launched They Are The Future, a support website for parents of school-aged children.

Through TATF Lucy is passionate about giving practical, manageable strategies to parents and children who may otherwise struggle to find the support they need.

Lucy is a mum to two teenage children. She lives in Buckinghamshire with her husband, children, rescue dog and three rescue cats. She enjoys caravanning and outdoor living, singing and musical theatre.

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