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How to Set Your Kids Up for Success + Printable Activities

In a world that is constantly changing with unpredictable challenges, how can we prepare kids to feel ready for anything? In your quest to be the best possible parent, you’re probably trying every trick in the book to set your kid up for success in school, friendships, and life in general. Everything we do sets an example for our kids, from how we treat others to how we dress and invest in our self-care.

Preparing kids to be high achievers who lead happy, fulfilled lives is much easier said than done. Showing them how to persevere in the face of adversity is one of the best ways to help your children thrive. No one likes their kids to feel discouraged, but being challenged and experiencing failure are important to allow them to grow. Below we outlined six ways to help kids develop a growth mindset along with some helpful printable activities to support this growth.

6 Ways to Help Kids Develop a Growth Mindset 

1) Set high but reasonable expectations

Setting high expectations for your kids is great. When you show them you believe they’re capable of handling difficult tasks, it’s empowering for them. For example, if your kid is following instructions to do a craft or build something, you can sit alongside them but let them do the majority of the work. When kids find themselves in challenging situations, they tend to get frustrated easily. Encourage your kid to work through those feelings. Naturally, if your child repeatedly continues to struggle, help them out after a certain point. 

2) Build and commit to a daily routine with them

To have a strong start and a peaceful end to the day, you need structure. Reevaluate your habits as you help your kids get ready for school, do homework, etc. Chances are there is plenty of room to streamline the process and save time. Rather than barking orders, help them through their routine tasks. Let your kids pick out their clothes, but support them through the process of getting dressed. 

For example you can nudge them by saying, “Why don’t we try this shirt today?” or “Can we remember to put our pajamas in the hamper rather than on the floor?”  Show your kids how to stick to a routine at a young age, and they’ll eventually internalize these habits as they become more independent. 

3) Allow them to struggle and problem solve independently

Any time your kid struggles with a task whether it’s a household chore, a school assignment, or mastering a skill, resist the urge to help them right away. Instead, ask open-ended questions to help them come up with a solution on their own. For example, “I know you're frustrated because X, how can we find a way around it?" Active problem-solving builds resilience and creativity. After all, creativity isn't just about being artistic. 

4) Encourage them to think outside the box

Inspire an innovative spirit in your kid. Do fun projects that encourage them to be creative and entrepreneurial. If they like building things, encourage them to take something apart and put it back together. If your kids want a certain type of meal for dinner but you’re out of a few non-essential ingredients, ask them to brainstorm a new recipe using what’s on hand instead of running to the store. 

5) Help them identify their emotions

No one likes to see their kids upset, but it’s better to work through their emotions with them rather than rushing to placate them or sugarcoat the situation. Emotional intelligence and resilience are two of the most important things you can help your kids cultivate. It all starts with identifying your emotions. In order to deal with their emotions, kids have to clearly articulate them first. Activities that allow a child to reflect on their actions, moods, and behaviors are powerful. They’re even more powerful when they’re screen-free. 

6) Be a better version of yourself to set a strong example 

Let your kids see you living your best life, and it’ll rub off on them. Are you getting enough rest, exercising, eating well, working towards personal goals, and learning from your mistakes? It’s so much easier for kids to mimic your positive behavior when you practice what you preach. Have a sense of humor and don’t take yourself too seriously. Being stressed all the time doesn’t help your kids form a positive mindset. They know you’re not perfect, but allowing them to see that you’re trying your best is crucial to help them build a sense of resiliency.

Printables to Encourage a Growth Mindset

Emotion Grid Exercise

Putting pen to paper is one of the most effective ways for kids to figure out how to cope with how they’re feeling. After all, it’s hard to think about a situation objectively in the moment. Sit down with your kids and try an exercise where they can reflect on different times they felt various negative and positive emotions. This helps your kids:

  • Identify their emotions.
  • Find appropriate ways to express and moderate their feelings.

Goal Setting Worksheet

Encourage your children to make time-sensitive goals with an action plan about a personal project they're excited about. Teaching kids about setting “SMART goals” lays the foundation for helping them build a growth mindset. This helps your kids:

  • Feel empowered and capable.
  • Understand the satisfaction of working towards something.

Growth Mindset Conversation Cube

After psychologist Carol Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success was released in 2006, the concept of building a growth mindset started spreading like wildfire. In the same way kids practice their times tables or memorize vocabulary, simple written exercises can help them develop a growth mindset. Have kids create their own “conversation cube” with question prompts that spark conversation.

  • Think critically and understand their feelings.
  • Learn positive self-talk. 

These printable activities act as a useful resource for helping teach your kids to be more self-aware and confident. The best part is that they’re easy to do anytime, whether it’s during breakfast or right before bed as you cozy up in your pajamas. The more quality time you spend at home with your kids, the more opportunities you’ll have for teachable moments. 



Psychology Today | Achieve It | Brain Pickings