Did you know that watching some of their favourite Disney movies could help your child do better at school?

Children who have a growth mindset tend to engage with subjects and activities more than those children who worry about “not being good enough.”  The good news is a growth mindset can be achieved through practice and encouragement.

The theory goes that there are two kinds of mindset: fixed and growth.

If a child (or adult) has a fixed mindset they believe that their abilities and skills are fixed and cannot be changed.  You might hear them say things like “but I’m just not good at maths” or “I’m not good at swimming – I’m just not made that way”.  This might lead them to give up trying or become resentful and resistant to any attempt to improve.   This feeling of not being “good enough” or even “bad” at something can damage their confidence.  A fixed mindset, which can be applied to anything from school subjects to how they deal with their emotions and behaviour, can limit a child’s development.

On the other hand, when a child has developed a growth mindset they are more likely to experiment with different approaches to improving their skills and problem -solving.  They are also more likely to see that practising will help them to do better, giving them the tenacity to carry on.  As children mature and find themselves in increasingly challenging situations a growth mindset becomes an extremely valuable life-skill.

So where do Disney movies come in to all this?

The Big Life Journal (www.biglifejournal.com) have compiled a list of the top 50 movies to help your child develop a growth mindset, you can read the article here.  The list includes animated feature films such as ‘Up’ and ‘Finding Nemo’, and short films such as the beautiful ‘Piper’.  Common throughout the selected films are characters who demonstrate a growth mindset and qualities like grit, perseverance, courage and determination.

Watching films with your children is a wonderful way to teach them about growth mindest but what else can you do as a parent?  Professor Carol Dweck, a psychologist and author on the subject, makes these suggestions:

  • Embrace the power of the word “yet”. If your child doesn’t quite achieve a desired grade or is struggling to learn a new skill, tell them that they are not there yet.  It encourages them to see that they are on a learning curve and that their results at a particular point in time are an indication that they are moving towards their goal.
  • Praise the process. By praising a child’s perseverance, the strategies they have used and the focus they have given to the situation, you are helping them to learn the process of tackling challenging situations.
  • Explain to them that by pushing themselves out of their comfort zones they are actually encouraging neurons to form stronger connections – they really are boosting their brain!

You can watch Professor Dweck talking more about the power of “yet” in this clip.

The concept of growth mindset has been the subject of much research in America and is very popular in schools there.  In the UK, a recent study has found that pupils who are more confident and happier to take risks perform better at school and this has been linked to PHSE classes.  The review of more than 1,200 studies, conducted by the charity Pro Bono Economics, found that PHSE has a positive effect on pupils’ health and behaviour and this could lead to an improvement in children’s grades.  The research found that “PSHE-type interventions can build interpersonal skills, such as confidence, which can enable greater risk-taking in class and therefore greater learning opportunities.”


At Flying Start, we build growth mindset techniques into our class plans and our core values embrace developing confidence in order to achieve better results.  To find out more about our unique approach, take a look around our website or book a trial lesson.