Having a Growth Mindset for Facing Adversity

By Steph, Outreach Worker in Kingston-Galloway

Something that never truly took effect in my own thinking until I was in my last year of teacher’s college, was having a growth mindset. The theory proposes that some people think that their abilities are stable and thus determinant of their own worth and competence, which reflects a fixed mindset, while others with a growth mindset believe that they can improve and grow in all aspects of their lives only if they try.

I’ve noticed that with a lot of our kids at KG, they are extremely competitive and do not handle losing well. It’s gotten so out of hand that we’ve had to limit how many games of dodgeball we could play a day, with the next day being dependent on their behaviour from the day prior. I can see that from their relentless expressions of anger, frustration, and disappointment that they clearly take these losses personally and see it as a measure of their competency and thus a shot at their confidence and pride. Last week, one of our kids became exceedingly frustrated with his attempt at cup stacking – despite it only being his first try, and he stormed away saying that he hated the game and never wanted to try again. It was this moment that I tried to share with him the importance of a growth mindset. However, although he initially dismissed what I was saying, the more I explained, the deeper the conversation grew. A growth mindset not only influences one’s ability to try at things they might not be naturally skilled in, but also how they view their own worth and ability to shape the outcomes of their circumstances. The conversation with this ten-year old gradually shifted from comments like “I don’t want to try again – it’s stupid”, to “I’m not good at anything – and nothing’s ever going to change in my life.” As he continued to reveal the deeper conflicts waging war in his mind, I was convicted to remind him of his worth in Jesus Christ. As I reminded him of how valued, special, and important he is to God, he began to cry, shielding his face. I thought about how personally he might have taken his failures, and how he often sought attention through tantrums or refusing to participate in activities. It became evident that he was calling out for attention and care – and that a lack of it somewhere in his life was affecting how he viewed his own worth and ability to overcome obstacles.

I was reminded of how important it is that we teach our kids to have a growth mindset, to work hard at all they do, having hope and confidence in the power of God to transform us and our circumstances if He so wills. It is such a powerful message to share and teach to the hearts and minds of our children, truly how transformative the love and power of Christ truly is.