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  • Writer's pictureApril Hartmann

How to Raise Your Toddler with Growth Mindset Parenting: Exactly What to Say


How to Raise Your Toddler with Growth Mindset Parenting: Exactly What to Say

Finding Nemo was the biggest selling DVD in history… ever.


Writer and director, Andrew Stanton tells the story of how he made the pitch to Pixar boss John Lasseter.


He brought elaborate visual aids, storyboards showing key plot points, story arcs and voiceover mock-ups to sell his "Nemo" story idea. Stanton pitched hard for over an hour – then finally stopped and asked Lasseter what he thought.

He replied: “You had me at fish.”


Why am I telling you this story?


Two Reasons:

  1. I won’t waste your time with lots of dry data. I’ll get right to the good stuff.

  2. The good stuff… is storytelling.


A Little Refresher


Babies and toddlers who are raised in a "growth mindset home,” that is, being consistently praised for their efforts and curiosity, achieve more success in school and in adult life.

Growth Mindset is an internal belief that continuous efforts will lead to success, and that challenges should be embraced, not avoided. Babies and toddlers who are raised in a "growth mindset home,” that is, being consistently praised for their efforts and curiosity, achieve more success in school and in adult life. This has been shown in multiple studies going back more than 30 years.


That’s that. No more data.


What to Say


Growth mindset parenting will help your toddler in school and in life.

Ok… now what? Surely we’re not going to lecture our 2-year-old about grit or explain brain plasticity. Dealing with temper tantrums and potty training is hard enough, now we have to take control of growth mindset??? Parents deserve some real solutions. But what?


You already know that praising effort is the key, but how? You may have heard what NOT to say, such as “Good job!” or “You’re so smart!” But what do you say instead? Are you supposed to repeat “Wow, you worked so hard!” over and over? That sounds like just another cliché. Plus, what if your child isn’t trying hard?


This can be confusing, plus you might have a lifetime of opposite habits if this wasn’t how you were raised. For growth mindset language to have an impact on kids, it needs to become second nature for their parents. How can a new idea become a regular habit?


So many questions!


Storytelling is the answer.


Children’s books are the best way to build a habit of growth mindset parenting.

When introducing new ideas to children, nothing compares to quiet moments spent sharing a book. Snuggled on mama’s or daddy’s lap, getting all that nurturing attention, it’s no wonder that children want books read over and over again. Aha!… the way to learn this is through repetition, for both you and your child. This is why children’s books are the best place to build this new habit of growth mindset praise.


Storytelling is Powerful


When I look for children’s books to address this, I find they either lack specific examples or are too complex for toddlers. As a published author and illustrator of children’s books, it has become my vision to provide growth mindset stories that are both purposeful and entertaining.


I created an entire series of books, professionally written, illustrated and designed to do this important work.


My Little Growing Mindset books will help both you and your toddler with growth mindset.

Your feedback matters to me, because I believe that Growth Mindset is essential to our children’s development and that more useful products need to be developed. So let’s work together to make this awesome. Through a survey link at the end of every book, you will be asked to share your experiences.


  • How does your child respond to the stories?

  • What parts make you feel like a master of growth mindset lingo?

  • What part isn’t getting the job done?


I want to hear the good, the bad, the snugly, and the ugly. Give me your honest feedback, because it will help me take this to the next level. When it comes to growth mindset, I walk my own talk.

My Little Growing Mindset books will help both you and your toddler with growth mindset.

How it Works


The books I created show you exactly what to say to build growth mindset in your toddler with everyday events, such as learning to put on shoes or pick up toys. Instead of repeating a single phrase, the text includes questions and observations, which shows you how to have a purposeful interaction. Plus, the stories help your child identify feelings of discomfort and see effort as a positive.


Is this some grand claim to end all meltdowns? Heck no! Life’s challenges are real, and they don’t go away as kids grow. The point is to help toddlers sort out their big emotions and build resilience.


Think progress, not perfection.


Instead of dreading challenging moments, you can see them as opportunities to grow. For both of you. Imagine the peace-of-mind you’ll have, with the right words ready to use in any tough situation with your child.


Babies and toddlers who are raised in a "growth mindset home,” that is, being consistently praised for their efforts and curiosity, achieve more success in school and in adult life.

When it comes to storytelling, you can count on me to deliver the goods. As I already mentioned, I am a published author and illustrator of children’s books. My artwork is featured in kids’ magazines, posters, on toys and packaging, and I have illustrated many books for children.


The Dream Keepers” is my first book as a published author. It also teaches growth mindset, and is written for kids age 5-10. As a growth mindset author and an illustrator of toddler books, combining both is a perfect fit for me.


“The Dream Keepers”  teaches growth mindset and is written for kids age 5-10.

Why it Matters


This matters to me because I have kids, too. As the parent of a 20-year-old and two teenagers, I know firsthand just how important growth mindset is to prepare them for adult life. I always taught them the value of a good work ethic. But looking back, I wish I had clearly understood how to put this into words when they were little.


Carol Dweck’s research in Mindset: The New Psychology of Success was first published in 2006. If only it had been popular knowledge for parents back then. I wish there had been books, toys and videos that made the concept of growth mindset clear.

April Hartmann, author and illustrator of children's books, and the founder of My Little Growing Mindset.

This is my mission – to promote growth mindset in babies and toddlers. It’s an entire brand called My Little Growing Mindset, featuring videos, toys and full-color board books currently in development. With thoughtful design, these products will be easy to use, making the Growth Mindset concepts simple to apply. From the moment your child is born, this will be the new norm for your parenting.


Go to the eBooks page at MyLittleGrowingMindset.com right now to download the stories, start reading with your child, and send your feedback. While you’re visiting, be sure to subscribe because this is just the beginning. I’ll be adding more books and other valuable materials regularly. Blog articles will include the latest research, practical strategies, and the power of a good story to tie it all together.


Just Keep Swimming

Storytelling is the best way to develop growth mindset practices.

Thanks for reading my entire first blog post! Starting this venture is my own growth mindset in action. I’m excited about all that I will learn along the way, but mostly, I’m eager to hear about the difference My Little Growing Mindset makes for you and your child.


Please leave a comment or question below! I’d love to see this grow into a forum where parents can offer ideas and support to each other. I also welcome differing views for the purpose of exploration. Let’s hear it! As one famous clown fish dad put it “with fronds like these, who needs anemones?”


P.S. If your only comment is “You had me at fish”…yep, you so totally get me.



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