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What Is Growth Mindset?

Growth mindset is a positive quality for both students and teachers.  In her book Mindset,Carol Dweck explains the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.  If you have a fixed mindset, you believe people have a set amount of talent or intelligence that cannot be changed.  If you have a growth mindset, you believe people can increase their natural talent or intelligence through hard work and effort.  She argues that having a growth mindset allows people to become more successful in all areas.

Growth Mindset = the belief that people can improve themselves through hard work and effort

Fixed Mindset = the belief that people are born with a set amount of talent and intelligence that cannot be changed

Growth Mindset in the Classroom child thinking of professions

If you work with elementary kids, having a growth mindset means you believe all of your students have the potential to grow, learn, and develop if they work hard. For your students, it means that they believe they can grow, learn, and develop if they work hard.  And the more you demonstrate a growth mindset, the more likely your kids are to develop a growth mindset.  One of the key ways you communicate that belief is through the language you use.  By using growth mindset phrases, instead of fixed mindset phrases, you help your kids learn that success comes through hard work and that they can control their own success.

In addition, research shows that praising kids for effort, instead of for “being smart”, helps them develop a growth mindset.  By using growth mindset phrases that encourage effort (not just intelligence), you teach your students to value effort over ease.  This type of language also show your kids that they can work hard to achieve their goals, even if it doesn’t come naturally to them.

So, do you want to foster a growth mindset in your classroom or with your kids?   Take a look at the following growth mindset phrases to start using today!

Phrases to Encourage Growth Mindset

  • When a child says they can’t do something or don’t know something, reply, “You can’t do it yet.” or “You don’t know it yet.”
  • “Hard work leads to success.”
  • “Build your brain’s muscles by working hard!”
  • “You learn from your mistakes.”
  • “Thinking is like giving your brain a workout.”
  • “The harder your try, the smarter you become.”
  • “Never give up!”
  • “Everyone makes mistakes.”
  • “Failure = learning”
  • “Mistakes make your brain bigger.”brain working out
  • “I love how hard you’re working!”
  • “Great effort!”
  • “I can tell you tried your best on this.”
  • “When the work gets hard, you start learning.”
  • “When the work gets hard, your brain gets smarter.”
  • “Failure makes your smarter.”
  • “Effort is exercise for your brain.”
  • “If it’s not hard, it’s not helping you learn.”
  • “You did such a good job on this (project/worksheet/test/quiz/etc) because you worked so hard on it.”
  • “I love how you didn’t give up, even when the work was difficult.”
  • “Great job being persistent!”
  • “Don’t let your brain be lazy!”
  • “If it’s too easy, you’re not learning.”
  • “People aren’t smart or not smart; people work hard or don’t work hard.”
  • “The more you use your brain, the smarter it gets.”
  • “I’m so proud of how you worked through that challenge!”
  • “Work hard, be successful.”
  • “You can learn anything as long as you put in the effort.”
  • “You can do anything when you work hard.”
  • “You are so hard-working!”  (Say this instead of, “You are so smart!”)


Using these growth mindset phrases with your kids will teach them the value of hard work and help them be successful.  In addition, having a growth mindset helps you stay positive while teaching, build positive relationships with your students, and enjoy teaching all of your kiddos!

Do you have any other growth mindset phrases that you use?  If so, leave a comment below or send me an email!