7 Ways to Master the Growth Mindset for Back-to-School Success

As the new school year approaches, the excitement and dread of a new educational journey start to fill the air. Beyond the textbook and assignments lies a hidden realm of psychological factors that significantly impact our success. Hint: our IQ and aptitude scores play very little roles in our academic and personal successes. Whether you’re a student, teacher, or parent, we’re here to help you learn what fixed and growth mindsets are, and how you can use this information to be the best learner you can be while cultivating a culture of perseverance and resilience.

Growth vs Fixed Mindsets

Fixed and growth mindsets, popularized by renowned Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, shapes our attitudes towards learning and challenges. Her groundbreaking 1972 study focused on elementary students’ attributions of their exam failures, revealing that those who had “growth mindsets” attributed poor performance to a lack of effort rather than lack of basic intelligence. These students demonstrated impressive improvement in subsequent tests. Conversely, students with a “fixed mindset” attributed bad grades to permanent traits, using statements like “I’m just bad at math.” They struggled to view challenges as opportunities for growth, which led to poor performance in subsequent exams. Her findings assert that students who hold the belief that intelligence is fluid and can be molded through effort often achieve higher academic success. 

How can I develop a growth mindset for myself?

  1. Prioritize Effort Over Intelligence: Research underscores that the impact of effort on success far surpasses that of IQ and other aptitude scores. This highlights the pivotal role of perseverance and determination in achieving one’s goals.
  2. Demystify Others’ Successes – Recognize that the most successful individuals achieve greatness through consistent practice and learning from failures, not from inborn abilities. Shift your focus from innate talent to effort.
  3. Embrace Failures as Growth Opportunities: View failures as tools for improvement. They serve as feedback, helping you hone in on areas of improvement. It is a chance to learn, adapt, and evolve in your journey toward success. 
  4. Overcome Learned Helplessness with Learned Optimism: More often than not, circumstances aren’t beyond your control. Learned optimism emphasizes your capacity to shape your reality through deliberate action.
  5. Nurture Self-Compassion: Treat yourself with kindness and non-judgement, especially when facing challenges. Criticizing ourselves harshly often exacerbates feelings of self-doubt and can permeate other aspects of our lives.
  6. Understand The Role Of Neuroplasticity: Recognize the brain’s remarkable ability to rewire itself. Every time you learn new information or improve a skill, you strengthen and expand neural networks, further enhancing your capacity for growth and development.
  7. Seek Professional Help: Remember, cultivating a growth mindset doesn’t have to be a solo journey. If you’re interested in personalized guidance, Insight Psychological offers specialized experts focused on academic success. Click here to book a consultation and take a proactive step towards achieving your goals.

How can parents and teachers cultivate a growth mindset in students?

Parents and teachers have considerable impact on students’ mindsets through language. Employing practices like offering praise on effort rather than abilities and embracing mistakes as learning opportunities can have a significant impact on students’ success. Below are examples of phrases that can foster or impede growth mindsets:

Foster Growth Mindset Impede Growth Mindset
“Mistakes help us improve. What’s one thing you’ll do differently next time?” “You should have known better!”
“That didn’t work out? Let’s try a new strategy.” “It’s okay. I think you’re just not cut out for this!”
“That was really challenging. Your effort has paid off!  “That was really hard. Once it’s over, you don’t have to do that again.”
“Was that HW too easy? Are you ready to try an advanced one?” “You are a natural at math. No further studying is needed!”

By using the types of phrases that foster a growth mindset, adults can encourage children to embrace challenges, value effort, and develop a resilient attitude towards learning.

As a new academic journey unfolds, fostering a growth mindset serves as a foundation for personal and educational success. Taking a realistic view of success, prioritizing action over innate abilities, and understanding neuroplasticity amplify our learning potential. Moreover, parents and teachers play pivotal roles in nurturing growth mindsets, propelling students toward resilience, fulfillment, and lifelong learning. If you’re seeking guidance on how to foster resilience for yourself, your child, or student this back-to-school season, don’t hesitate to book an appointment with us! Moreover, we offer services that help children and youth thrive personally and academically at different stages of their development. 


Dweck, C. S. (1972). The Role of Expectations and Attributions in the Alleviation of Learned Helplessness in a Problem-Solving Situation (PhD thesis). Yale University. hdl:10079/bibid/9849217. OCLC 5066128.

Duda, J. M., & Joormann, J. (2022). Learned helplessness: Expanding on a goal-directed perspective. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 36(8), 1037-1041. https://doi.org/10.1080/02699931.2022.2118238

Duckworth, A. L. (2016). Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. Scribner.