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Fostering a Growth Mindset with the Four P's

successful student learning with the growth mindset

If I told you that I know HOW to create a successful, confident and motivated child who loves to learn and not give up, would you want to know how? If I told you that I know the person who can help your child achieve this, would you want to know who?

You'll find the answer simply by looking in the mirror. It's you! The parent! You are the closest source to helping your child begin to set goals towards being a successful student, and I'm going to share with you the HOW to start training your brain to foster a growth mindset and create a positive influence on your child.

You may wonder why I'm writing to educate you, the parents. How does this affect your children and THEIR learning? Remember when we used to travel on airplanes (sigh) and before takeoff, the flight attendant is standing up front and giving a safety presentation? Remember watching them hold up the seatbelt and hearing the "click" as they teach you how to lock and loosen the belt? Remember the oxygen mask and how you need to always put your mask on BEFORE you help your child put theirs on?

Well, that's the same for training your brain and your child's. Parents need to understand the growth mindset first so they can impact their children to train their brains. When parents understand the value of this type of mindset and can nurture it in their homes, their children can see and feel the difference it makes, encouraging them to work smarter, try harder and boost their confidence. Students need to have a growth mindset to be successful and motivated in school. With this "new brain", they can start to think about goal setting, planning and managing their time effectively. Think of this as a pre-requisite to learning...for both you and your child.

So why the pre-requisite? Why do we need to train our brains? Neuroscientists have done extensive research on the brain's impact on behaviour and cognitive functions. I've taken a keen interest in learning more about neural plasticity, where the neurons in your brain grow and develop to make new pathways and connections. This type of synaptic strengthening is how we retain knowledge and memory and shift towards long-term potentiation, which ultimately creates memory and habits.

Neuroscientists studying the brain

In short, your brain is a powerful organ that can be strengthened. Below is what I simplified as the four P's -four key understandings to train your brain so that you can strengthen your brain and help your child grow and succeed to become motivated and happy learners.

Ready? Let's read on!


A growth mindset is key.

There are great proverbs out there and there are ones that aren't so great. Remember this one? "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." This one is not so great. It ultimately claims that you can't continue to learn, and that there is a limit to one's learning. This is the fixed mindset way of thinking. This type of thinking restricts you and sets you up for failure. This type of thinking makes people give up and lose confidence.

We need to shift our thinking towards the growth mindset brain. You may not necessarily be born smart, but you can get stronger and smarter through efforts and attitude. Carol Dweck, a respected Stanford University professor, psychologist and the author of Mindset, spent decades on researching the role in motivation and self-regulation, and their impact on achievement and interpersonal processes. In her book, she defines the growth mindset:

"Growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts, your strategies, and help from others. Although people may differ in every which way - in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments - everyone can change and grow through application and experience."

Though the focus here is on student learning, you can take this growth mindset approach into all areas of your life, whether it is in relationships, sports, careers or business. Framing your life with the growth mindset perspective changes how you see things. If children are given the opportunity to learn about growth mindset when they are young, their journey to their future success becomes a smoother and more enjoyable path to take. Foster that growth mindset on your children, but more importantly, have yourself become growth-mindset orientated so you become the ideal role model for your kids.


Affirmations are golden.

I'm sure you've heard this time and time again, but let me remind you because it's THAT important. Affirmations are golden. It's so important to stay positive especially when you come across frustrating and stressful situations. Staying optimistic about a situation helps you create a growth mindset where you will strive to find a solution. When tackling something difficult, think and say "Yes, I can". This doesn't mean to blanket and hide the problems though. It's important to acknowledge the setbacks and failures and learn from them. Bring those feelings up to the surface and find out why or how the problem occurred. If your child didn't do well on their math test, find out what went wrong and what they can do about it to improve the next time. Even when something seems impossible, say to yourself, "I can't do that YET". The word "yet" is powerful. It affirms that you may not be able to achieve what you want at the present moment, but with time and practice and perseverance, it is possible. Say to yourself "I can't do that....yet." Tell yourself "I haven't achieved that...yet". But you can and you will. Remove negative self-talk to encourage your children to strive for their best.


Understand that it takes time.

I would love to tell you that your child's motivation and love for learning can change overnight, but sorry, it doesn't. Despite all the instant gratifications around us (thank you technology), this one can't just magically happen. Creating good habits and organization skills take time. It takes time for conscious actions to become unconscious. Your brain is a like a muscle and it takes time for this muscle to grow and get stronger. It takes time to get better. We often only hear about the success of an athlete or a performer after they become famous. We talk about their stats and their achievements, but we rarely hear about how many hours, how many days, weeks, and years it took them to get to where they are. We are not necessarily here to strive to become pro athletes and stars, but no matter what we choose our success to be, we need to remind ourselves that it takes time to form good habits and achieve our goals. Remember that when your child is working on something, whether that is improving in writing, or building skills in a sport. Patience is key. Learn to have patience with others, and your child will see the value in patience too.


Not only does it take time, it takes repetition.

I repeat. Not only does it take time, it takes repetition! (sorry, I'm sure you saw that coming). The neurons in your brain "learn" by recognizing various patterns of connections among its synapses and fire then they see this pattern. In other words, to make anything become routine, we need to train our brains to do things consistently. We need to consciously perform actions to make these actions become subconscious. Once our brain transfers these actions as subconscious, they become habits and these habits will become automatic to the point where the tasks are performed without effort. Know that persistence, along with patience (point #3), will bring success. As life coach, motivational speaker/author Marie Forleo sums it up best, "Success doesn't come from what you do occasionally, it comes from what you do consistently."

Let's summarize the 4 P's to successful learning.


  • shift towards the growth mindset

  • focus on efforts and attitude to become smarter and stronger


  • remind yourself of the power of yet

  • acknowledge setbacks and failures and learn from them


  • imagine that your brain is like a muscle and it takes time for it to improve and get stronger

  • give it time for positive habits to form and skills to improve


  • know that your brain "learns" when it sees patterns

  • rinse and repeat to build consistency

Keeping these four "P's" in mind is the first step to forming a growth mindset and to promote a positive learning environment for you and your child. Really think about these four points and get into that frame of mind. Not until you agree with this will you be able to help your children succeed. Share these ideas with your children and encourage them to begin and continue their growth mindset journey. Tell them about the importance of POTENTIAL, POSITIVITY, PATIENCE, and PERSISTENCE and have them teach you back. Have your older children read this blog and let them reflect on these four points.

When your child affirms the growth mindset to understand how the brain works and know that is is trainable, they will be ready to start their journey to improve their learning, organizing, and study habits. They will be ready to set goals.

Please like and share this with others whom you think will benefit from following the "4 P's" to successful learning.

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