Benefit mindset: Beyond a growth mindset

14 January 2019

Benefit mindset: Beyond a growth mindset

  • Positive Parenting
by Michael Grose

The impact of the mindset work of Carol Dweck has been profound. Since she published her book ‘Mindset’ in 2006 there’s barely a school in the developed world that hasn’t been touched by its methodology. Parents now remind their children that they may not be good at maths, but with application they can be. Major corporations such as Microsoft, Google and NASA have made Growth mindset an integral part of company cultures.

While a growth mindset focuses on developing a child’s full potential there’s a place for developing a child’s leadership and community development potential as well. When children and young people recognise they can be of value to others they go beyond simply developing growth mindset to develop a benefit mindset as well.

What is a growth mindset?

A growth mindset is the belief that ability and talents can be developed with effort. A fixed mindset is the belief that ability and talent is innate. With effort and a good strategy anyone can succeed at math says the growth mindset followers, while you’re either good at math or your not according to the fixed mindset brigade.

At Parenting Ideas we believe firmly in the notion of developing a growth mindset in children and young people. That is, remove self-imposed limitations so kids can grow.

While a growth mindset focuses on developing a child’s full potential there’s a place for developing a child’s leadership and community development potential as well. When children and young people recognise they can be of value to others they go beyond simply developing growth mindset to develop a benefit mindset as well.

So what does a benefit mindset look like in a child?

The Benefit mindset is where ‘me’ meets ‘we’. A child with a benefit mindset is open to learning, but is also focused on how he can assist and help others. They don’t succeed at the cost of someone else’s success. They focus on the needs of their group, class or family.

The challenge for parents is self-apparent. How do we develop a benefit mindset when children by their nature can be self-centred? We’re confident that with maturity and when surrounded by nurturing, community-minded people (i.e. family, school, peers) children can learn to focus more on the needs of others, than on just their own.

Here are some simple every day ways to develop a benefit mindset in kids of all ages:

  1. Expect them to regularly help at home without being paid
  2. Encourage them to volunteer in some capacity within the community in age-related ways
  3. Share stories with children and young people of community, leadership and volunteering
  4. Give kids leadership opportunities (with accompanying responsibilities) among siblings and friends
  5. Conduct regular family meetings to enable kids to contribute positively to their family

A benefit mindset focuses on a child doing good, rather than being good. It also encourages kids to develop strengths within the context of contributing to the wellbeing of others in their families or communities rather than focusing on their own ends. That sounds a lot like leadership to us.

Share This

Michael Grose

Michael Grose, founder of Parenting Ideas, is one of Australia’s leading parenting educators. He’s the author of 12 books for parents including Spoonfed Generation and the best-selling Why First Borns Rule the World and Last Borns Want to Change It. His latest release Anxious Kids, was co-authored with Dr Jodi Richardson.