5 ways to encourage a growth mindset in your children

5 ways to encourage a growth mindset in your children

At the start of this academic year my children’s school started talking about how they were working on promoting a growth mindset in the children, in line with the school’s ethos of helping every child to achieve success.

I hadn’t really heard the term ‘growth mindset’ before, so went off and did some reading into it.  I found the whole idea really interesting, but then didn’t really think much more about it because, honestly, it didn’t seem all that relevant to my children at the time.

Recently though, I’ve noticed that Rhys is struggling at times with feelings of frustration when he can’t do something.

He seems to have a bit of a fixed mindset, that tells him that he simply can’t do something.  So we’re working on changing that mindset to a growth one.  Working on teaching him that with work and practice and effort he may well be able to do the things he can’t do on his first try.

If you’re finding that your child seems to have a fixed mindset about some things, here are five ways you can help to encourage a growth mindset instead.

5 ways to encourage a growth mindset in children


1. Talk to them about how our brains work, and explain the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset

Explain to your child that our brains form new pathways every time we try or learn something new.  And it takes time and repeated tries at something for those pathways to get more established and for us to then get better at the thing we’re trying to do.

Once they understand this, they should also then start to understand that we can’t expect to be good at everything we try, the first time we try it.

From there you can then explain to them that a fixed mindset will stop us ever being great at things that don’t come naturally to us.  If we try something once, find it hard and think ‘I’m no good at this’, then we never give the new pathways in our brains a chance to take root.

On the other hand, if we have a growth mindset and think about ways we can practice and work on the thing we find hard, then the pathways will strengthen and we will improve.


2. Don’t just focus on results

When our children do well on a test, or get all of their homework questions right then the temptation is to congratulate them on those results.  We so often want to tell them, “you’re so clever”, or “you’re so good at maths”, but this might not be the best approach to take.

This type of praise can actually promote a fixed mindset, because it tells them that ‘being clever’ is a trait that they have, and so isn’t something they can actually control.

Instead we should be looking to praise the effort that they put in to achieve the results they got, and the way they approached the challenge.

Talking about the things they did to get the results puts the focus on things that they can control, like how hard they work, how many times they practice the skill and how they go about getting help if they’re struggling.


3. Take away the fear of failure

One of the big reasons we all have for not trying new or hard things is because we’re so worried about making mistakes and failing.

If we can take away that fear of failure for our children they’ll be much more willing to give things a go, and keep trying when they do get it wrong.

What we need to teach our children is that mistakes and failures are really important parts of learning.  And that it’s not a bad thing to get something wrong, it just helps us learn from a situation and improve for next time.


4. Model the behaviour you want to teach them

Our children are constantly watching us and learning from the way we behave.  I think the behaviour we model in front of our children can be much more powerful than the words we say directly to them when we’re trying to teach them how to act.

So let them see you struggle with new challenges.

Let them know that some things are hard for you at first.

And talk to them about the strategies you use to figure it out.  The hours of practice you put in to get good at something.

Model an attitude of effort and persistence for them to learn from.


5. Teach them the magic word

When it comes to developing a growth mindset, there is one magic word that can make a huge difference.


Added on to the end of a sentence it can change everything.

You go from “I can’t do it” to “I can’t do it … yet” and that is incredibly powerful.

It’s telling yourself that maybe you can’t do it at the moment, but that doesn’t mean you never will be able to do it.

promoting growth mindset in children


A few weeks ago Rhys had a bit of a hard time at his swimming lesson. 

He is struggling to come up for a breath and then carry on smoothly with his breast stroke.  After his lesson I asked him what had made him upset during his lesson and he told me “I can’t do it”.

And we talked about how he really means, “I can’t do it yet”.

I reminded him of how far he’s come with his swimming since he started his lessons.  How in the beginning he couldn’t swim at all, and he had to have armbands to keep him afloat.  And now, with time and practice and perseverance he can swim so well.

I think he understood, and seemed to feel a bit better by the end of our chat.  It did make me a lot more aware of this whole growth mindset thing though, and it’s something I’ll be much more active in promoting in him (and Nerys) from now on.

It’s been a pretty good reminder for me too, to keep a watchful eye on my own mindset when things are hard.

Are you aware of this idea of having a growth mindset?  Is it something you actively promote in your children?

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
quick things try when stressed

5 quick things to try when you feel stressed

I think it’s fair to say that most of us feel stressed out about one thing or another on quite a regular basis.

It might be due to pressures of work, or money, or keeping the house in order while raising children.  Whatever the reason behind it, studies have found that 85% of adults in the UK are regularly feeling stressed.

There are all sorts of things we can do long term to help with stress, but what about those times when it all suddenly gets too much and you need a way to calm yourself down quickly?

Here are 5 ideas for things you can try to help you quickly feel better when you’re stressed out.

5 quick things to try feel stressed


1.  Turn to nature


If you can, head outside to a green space for a few minutes.

Spending time in nature has been shown to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety and help us feel calmer.  So if you can, find a green space outside and spend a few minutes connecting with nature.

If you’re not able to physically go outside, say you’re stuck at your desk at work for example, then just looking at a photo of a scene from nature can have the same effect.

A study carried out at VU University in Amsterdam found that just 5 minutes of looking at a nature scene can help us recover from stress more quickly.  The participants in the study who viewed pictures of trees found their heart rate and blood pressure recovered from a stressful event more quickly than those who looked at urban scenes.

So it might be worth choosing a nice woodland or park scene to use as the wallpaper on your work computer, or keeping a photo of your children in a pretty outdoor location on your desk to look at when you start to feel stressed.


bluebells in the sunshine


2.  Breathe


When something stresses us out we tend to experience the flight or fight response.

This is basically where our bodies get ready for either fighting or running away from the cause of the stress.  So your heart starts to beat faster and your muscles tense up ready for action.

When you feel your body starting to react in this way you can calm yourself down by focusing on your breathing.

There’s a large nerve that runs through your body, connecting your brain with your heart, lungs, gut and other major organs.  It’s called the vagus nerve, and it’s part of your parasympathetic nervous system which helps to slow down that fight or flight response.

You can activate the vagus nerve with slow, rhythmic breathing.

Try breathing in for a count of 5, holding that breath for a count of 2 and then gently breathing out for a count of 6.

This will help to tell your brain that you’re not in any immediate danger, and so have no need to fight or to run, and you will start to feel calmer again.



3.  Do some star jumps


The other alternative to deal with the fight or flight response is to get active.

When the adrenaline starts pumping round your body then use it up by quickly doing some physical activity.

Kathleen Hall, chief executive of The Stress Institute in Atlanta, has suggested that you keep a skipping rope in your office so you can do 60 seconds of fast skipping when you need to relieve stress quickly.

If you don’t have the luxury of a private office for a spot of skipping then see if you can find a place to do a few star jumps or press ups.

A power walk round the block would also do the trick.

Hall explains,

“Exercise relaxes tense muscles that become tight and rigid when you experience stress.  Exercise delivers oxygen to the brain, vital organs and muscles immediately and produces endorphins that soothe your mind, body and soul.”



4.  Stand up tall and clench your right fist


Have you heard about power poses before?  They’re basically ways of posing your body that are normally quite expansive and open, that make you feel more confident and less anxious.  If you’re feeling stressed before an interview, follow researcher Amy Cuddy’s advice and take a few minutes to stand like wonder woman to give yourself a confidence boost.

Even just simply sitting up straight can help in the fight against stress.

A study published in the journal ‘Health Psychology’ found that people who sat upright while doing some high-pressure tasks had fewer negative thoughts and feelings than those who sat slouched down in their chairs.

While you’re busy perfecting your posture, try clenching and unclenching your right hand a few times.

Doing this activates the left side of your brain, which is the more logical side.  When you’re feeling stressed and scared, the right brain is more active as this is the part that deals with our emotions.  So activating the left side of your brain can help you to calm down and think more logically about the situation you’re in.


relieve stress focus on three things you can see right now

5.  Focus on three things you can see around you


Mindfulness has become more and more popular over the last few years, and it’s a great way to deal with stress and anxiety.

You can apply the principles of mindfulness when you need to de-stress quickly by looking around you and describing three things that you can see.  You want to be trying to describe the things in terms of their shape, size, colour etc.

So if you’re in the office you can focus on the blue of the chair you’re sitting on, and how the fabric of the seat feels when you touch it and how it supports your back when you recline in it.  Or take a sip of your cup of tea and focus on how hot it is, how the cup fits in your hand and what colour it is.

This exercise forces your attention away from the things that are making you feel anxious and stressed and instead makes you focus on the present moment and non-emotional, neutral aspects of experience.


Next time you find yourself in a stressful situation, or just suddenly feel overwhelmed and stressed out by life in general, give one of these five quick tricks a try.  You should be starting to feel calmer in no time.


benefit of spending time outside

1 surprising benefit to spending time outside

We all know that getting outside in the fresh air is good for us.

Spending time in nature can help us relax and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.  Breathing in all that fresh air is great for our respiratory systems and the vitamin D we get from the sun boosts our immune systems.

But there is another benefit to spending time outside that might surprise you.

surprising benefit of spending time outside

Did you know that spending time outside in nature can help boost our body image?

A few studies have been carried out that found a correlation between spending time outside in nature and having a positive body image.  The thing with these studies though is that the researchers didn’t know if there was actually a causal link between the two.

This question seems to have been answered by a recently published study carried out by Swami et al.  The researchers actually carried out a few different studies to test this idea that spending time in green spaces can give us a more positive body image.

What they found in each of the 5 studies was that there was a boost in body image after spending time in green spaces. 

Now, when they talk about positive body image they don’t just mean that people thought that they looked better after spending time outside in nature.  In this instance, positive body image is about being appreciative of our bodies and respecting what they’re able to do.  It’s about embracing different ideas of beauty rather than believing that only one type of ‘look’ can be beautiful.

In one of the studies they found that people who walked through the green spaces of Hampstead Heath showed a significant increase in body appreciation, agreeing with statements like ‘I am comfortable with my body’.  This is compared to people who took a walk of the same length in an urban area, who actually showed a decrease in body appreciation after their walk.

What’s really interesting though, is that just looking at photos of green spaces has the same effect as actually going out and being in nature.  So it’s not the fresh air and sunlight that cause this change in body image.

The researchers suggested that it might be down to the fact that even just looking at green spaces has a calming effect on us.  They explain it like this:

Natural environments may capture one’s attention in an effective but gentle manner, a process termed by Kaplan and Kaplan (1989) as “soft fascination.” This undramatic fascination is generally accompanied by feelings of pleasure, such as when one is drawn to the sight of a setting sun or green vistas. Such surroundings may be ideal for promoting more positive state body image because they effortlessly hold one’s attention while allowing for simultaneous thought and reflection to occur. The ability to reflect in an environment that does not require effortful attention may provide the observer with a cognitive quiet, which in turn may foster self-kindness, nurturance, and a compassionate view of one’s self and body

In general green spaces are less visually busy than built-up, urban areas.  Walking through the city you’re bombarded with sights and sounds and smells and it can be a lot to take in and process.  In the park though, there is more space, and it tends to be much quieter in every sense of the word.  So our minds are calmer and we tend to feel more positive about everything.

So if you’re a mum who’s feeling a bit down about your body since having your children, try to make an effort to get out in some green spaces as often as you can, it really might make you feel more positively about your body.  It can be far too easy to look at how our bodies have changed thanks to pregnancy, and to feel bad about not being as slim or toned as we used to be.

What we need to do though is anything and everything we can to remind ourselves that actually our bodies are absolutely amazing and beautiful because of what they’ve done.  

And speaking of our children, I think it’s a great idea to encourage them to spend more time in green spaces too.  They are exposed to so many negative messages these days as far as body image goes, that anything we can do to promote a healthy, positive body image in them can only be a good thing.

help children to be happy

3 ways to help your children to be happy

There’s a quote from John Lennon that I’ve seen floating around the internet for a while now, about life and happiness.

“When I was 5 years-old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy.’ They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

I’m never sure how true this little story is, but I love the thinking behind it.

Surely all we really want for our children is for them to be happy?

I’m not sure that happiness is something that we can teach to another person, but there are some things we can do to help our children to be happy, both now and in the future.

3 ways to help your children be happy 2

Get them smiling

It makes sense that the more things our children do that make them smile, the happier they’ll be.  So encourage them to find activities that they enjoy and to do them as much as possible.

Did you know though that just the act of smiling makes us feel happier?  Back in the 1870s Darwin suggested that showing our emotions physically helps to intensify them?  So showing that we’re happy by smiling can make us feel even happier!


Help them build relationships

I wrote a post a while ago of 7 amazing facts about love, and one of those facts mentioned a study that was carried out over an impressive 75 years.  At the end of the study the participants were asked what they felt the key to a happy life is, and the answer that was given more than any other was love and building connections with other people.

It can be really bittersweet to see your children get that bit older and start to form close relationships with other people.  When they’re babies you are their entire world and I think it’s quite natural to feel this urge to want to hold on to that.  But it is so important for their happiness and general well being for them to form good, close relationships with other people.

Encourage them to form friendships with the children in their class at school.  Let them chat to the neighbours over the fence.  Get together with family when you can so they can get to know their cousins, and aunts, uncles, grandparents.


Teach them to be grateful

Have you heard the idea that what you focus on expands?

Teaching our children to take a few minutes every day to talk about the good things that happened that day is a great way to help them be happier.

Focusing on all the things they have to be grateful for will help them to then notice more and more good things in their lives, and so build up their happiness too.


So there you go, three things we can do to help our children be happy – get them smiling, help them build relationships and teach them to be grateful.

These ideas aren’t limited to children either.  Some days I think we could all use a reminder to focus on these things when we need a little happiness boost.

Do you have any other little things you do to help your children to be happy?


Mummies Waiting
psychology of giving

The psychology of giving and why it feels so good

Last Friday the children both came out of school with big smiles on their faces, feeling really excited because they had something special for me in their bags.

The parents association had organised a really lovely event for Mother’s day.  The children went in to school with a few pounds and were then able to go to the hall and choose a special present for us mums from a huge range of options.

They were given help to pick something out and then the gifts were beautifully wrapped up ready for them to give to us on Mother’s day.

What was so wonderful is how excited the children all were about it.  Rhys and Nerys were amazing though, and didn’t give me any hints at all as to what they had chosen for me.  They were just desperate for Mother’s day to come around so that they could see me open their presents.

I just thought it was so lovely that the act of giving seemed to make them so happy, and what’s really interesting is that there really does seem to be an innate part of us that takes real joy in giving to other people.

Why giving back feels so good

Studies have actually been carried out on children that have found that even at a young age we gain joy and satisfaction from giving and helping others.

One particular study carried out by Aknin et al. (2012) involved asking toddlers to share treats with a puppet and found that they showed more happiness giving the treats to the puppets than they did when they received the treats themselves.

The researchers came to the conclusion that the children were too young to have been particularly influenced by social expectations and so they believe that we have evolved to be naturally inclined to find happiness in giving to others.


This feel-good factor does seem to stay with us as we get older too.

A study by Dunn et al. found that people were happier when they spent around $5 a day on someone else, than if they spent that same amount of money on themselves.  I think we’ve all had experiences where we’ve felt that little happy glow after paying for a friend’s coffee, with no expectation of the gesture being returned.  Or felt so happy and excited when out shopping for presents for our loved ones.

It does spread further than that though.

If you’ve ever taken part in a sponsored event for charity you know how good it feels to do something proactive to raise money for a cause you believe in.  If you want to support a cause close to your heart, but don’t know where to start then this list of 100 unique fundraising ideas will get the inspiration flowing.


Some people feel so passionately about giving back to others that they build their whole business model around it.

There are some amazing businesses here in Swansea that have done just this, and who go to show the not for profit idea can work for all sorts of industries.  Square Peg is a lovely coffee shop in Sketty (they also now have Peg 2 in Mumbles), with a warm and welcoming atmosphere, great food and especially great coffee.  They also give their profits away to good causes and offer training and apprenticeships in their coffee shops to help people get valuable work experience.

Over in Clydach there’s Dynamic Rock which I really have to pay a visit to at some point.  They’re a not for profit climbing centre who offer sessions for everyone from children and complete beginners to experienced climbers and businesses looking for a unique teambuilding activity.

All their profits go back into the business, so they can really serve the local climbing community as well as making climbing a more accessible activity for everyone.

I think Rhys would absolutely love to give indoor climbing a try, and I love the passion that everyone at Dynamic Rock seems to have for it.


Whether it’s just something small like buying a small present for someone, or even just paying them a compliment, or something huge like building a whole business around giving back, there’s a lot to be said for being generous and giving.  It’s a real win-win situation where everyone involved benefits and feels good.

And that seems to be mainly just down to basic human nature which is really quite nice to know if you ask me!

Oh, and in case you were wondering, I was given a lovely tealight lantern to hang in the garden and a very sparkly hair-slide for Mother’s day!

young girl painting

Developing child creativity with arts and crafts activities

Reading and mathematics are two “major” subjects in most schools, but what about creativity? Although arts and crafts are considered a luxury, they can also be the building blocks of child development.

Learning to be creative and appreciating beauty is ever more significant for next generation kids.

Here are 5 benefits of developing your child’s creativity:

Developing child creativity with arts and crafts activities

  1. Fine motor coordination. Children need motor coordination to learn how to write, cut patterns, and draw shapes. These skills also help them in other areas of their life, such as eating and dressing.


  1. Self-esteem booster. At first, rather than choosing difficult art projects, select the ones that match with your child’s current skill level. This will help them build their self-esteem, and give them a great sense of accomplishment, especially when they complete their crafts successfully. Later, as your children begin to explore more, you can introduce more challenges just to keep them engaged.


  1. Bilateral coordination. Crafts activities such as drawing, coloring, and cutting require your child to use both their hands. This skill can also help them in other areas of their life, including typing, tying shoes, writing, and much more!


  1. Self-regulation. Your child needs to learn to “wait” when doing crafts activity such as drying, which can help them develop life’s vital skills such as patience and self-control.


Remember: Arts and crafts must also teach your child to be flexible.


When exploring creativity, there’s no right or wrong way – just a matter of achieving a balance.


  1. Bonding and fun. You and your children will spend quality time together to create something memorable and fun, which you’ll both look at it with a sense of pride and joy.


And, here’s how you can inspire creativity in your child, in 6 simple ways:


  1. Avoid drawing with your kid. Parent often sit beside their children and draw along with them, which can discourage him. Instead of drawing with them, just stand there right next to them and let them know that you’re interested and supportive of their artwork.


  1. Don’t give directions. Don’t tell your children what they should draw or how they should draw. For example, rather than saying, “draw an elephant,” encourage them by saying, “play around with the colors using different types of paper and brushes.”


  1. Be specific about their artwork. When giving feedbacks on artworks, try being specific, rather than vague. For example, you can say, “I see that you’re using a lot of oranges. Why did you select that color?”


  1. Prepare an art space. Establish an art space for your child so that they can experiment with their artwork (and be messy). It could be outside the house, in the backyard, garage, or inside the home (top of your kitchen table – my favorite).


  1. Let it be. Once they’ve completed their artwork, do NOT suggest additional changes, which will help them feel appreciated, and know that what he’s created is enough – even if it was merely a dot on the paper.


  1. Explore their process. One of the most effective ways to boost conversation about your child’s artwork is asking them, “Did you enjoy making it?” or, “Go on, tell me how did you do it?”


And, here are 3 easy to follow craft ideas you can do with your kids:


Idea #1: Cotton Ball Snowman


  • Make three circles to outline your snowman.
  • Pour glue into each circle completely
  • Stick cotton balls in those circles to make your snowman
  • Be creative and make a face for your snowman and accessorize with gloves, goggles, hat, etc.


Idea #2: Snowflakes


  • Trace a circle on a paper
  • Cut the circle
  • Fold the circle in half, 3 times
  • From the edges, draw shapes using a pencil
  • Cut along the designs using scissors
  • Open your circle slowly


Idea #3: Holiday Inspired Cards


  • Cut a piece of construction paper into a rectangular shape (10 inches by 6 inches, for example).
  • Write your message on the paper and make your child trace over it.
  • Using gum, stick a picture of your child.
  • Include holiday inspired stencils, then, ask your child to trace on the card.
  • Use a lot of different materials: paint, markers, glitter, colored glue, magazines, scrap paper, buttons, etc.


As you can imagine, all little ones love sticking their things – from cards to snowflakes – on their walls and ceilings. And, they’ll also absolutely adore you if you can add their names to labels.


Here’s the good news: you can personalise their creations quickly and easily by using sewing labels or personalised stickers (https://wunderlabel.co.uk/woven-labels/bespoke-with-own-logo ).


Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post

bright pink flower

Try this one little trick to feel happier in your relationship

Unless you’re one of those couples that is completely in sync and agrees about everything, chances are you and your partner have fights from time to time.

Research generally supports the idea that disagreements are normal and healthy in relationships.  What really matters is the way that you fight, and how you resolve that conflict and move forwards.

So next time you get annoyed and start fighting with your other half, try this one little trick to resolve things and to feel happier in your relationship.

Try this one little trick to feel happier in your relationship

Ask yourself, “how will I feel about this current conflict in one year’s time?”

A study carried out by Huynh et al. in 2016 found that asking this question, and thinking about their conflicts in terms of the future, helps people to feel more positive about their relationship.

They found that when people think about their relationship from a future perspective, rather than how they’re feeling right now in the heat of the moment, they tend to feel more forgiving and see their relationship more positively.

One of the author’s of the study wrote:

“When romantic partners argue over things like finances, jealousy, or other interpersonal issues, they tend to employ their current feelings as fuel for a heated argument.  By envisioning their relationship in the future, people can shift the focus away from their current feelings and mitigate conflicts”

The study asked two groups of people to think about an argument they had recently with their partner.

One half of the group were asked to explain how they felt about the argument at the time that it happened, while the other half were asked to imagine how they would feel about it in the future.

What the researchers found was that the group who imagined themselves in the future blamed their partners less for the argument, and were more forgiving.  They also showed more insight into why the argument happened in the first place.

This group saw their relationship more positively than the group that weren’t thinking from a future perspective, and they also felt better about their relationship.

At the end of the study Huynh reported:

“Our study demonstrates that adopting a future-oriented perspective in the context of a relationship conflict — reflecting on how one might feel a year from now — may be a valuable coping tool for one’s psychological happiness and relationship well-being.”

It wasn’t mentioned in the study, but I think this could also be a useful strategy to use to stop some arguments happening in the first place.

If you get annoyed with something your partner does, and find yourself gearing up to start a fight about it, stop.  Take a few minutes and ask yourself how you’ll feel about the issue in a year’s time.  This time next year, will it still bother you that he left his dirty socks on the floor, or that she pulled all the covers over to her side of the bed?  Probably not!  So is it really worth picking a fight over it?

Do you think this would work for you in your relationship?  Or do you tend to get so caught up in how you’re feeling in the middle of a row that you would find it hard to see things from a different perspective?

I’d love to hear what people have to say about this in the comments.