What is grit and why is it really important that we are fostering and promoting grit with our kids? Let's talk about how to make your child more gritty.
When I first learned about grit, I realized that I didn't have a lot. I am an idea person, but I also am a shiny object chaser, so I don't always stick to one goal. I tend to move around from goal to goal.
I realized I wanted to change. I wanted to become more gritty. I also knew that if I started working with my kids while they were young, I could develop gritty behavior in them, too.
Developing grit is not easy.
It is something that has to be fostered. Grit takes a lot of work and effort. We have all been working at it for a while and we are definitely noticing results.
This blog post is a way to share some of the strategies that have been working with our family.
What is Grit?
If you're unfamiliar with the Term Grit, it was created by Angela Duckworth, a psychologist. You should check out her Ted Talk here. Basically, she describes Grit as "perseverance and passion for long term goals."
- Perseverance: to keep going and keep trying, even when things are tough.
- Passion: something they really care about or something that they're interested in - something they will "stick with." As Angela Duckwork describes in her book, Grit: The power of passion and perseverance, Passion is "sustained, enduring devotion."
Do your kids give up easily if they are faced with a difficult challenge? If so, they probably need to develop more Grit.
Why is Grit important?
The skills required for Grit (i.e. being able to take on challenges, working really hard, keep trying and keep going even when things are tough) help determine a child's long-term success and happiness.
I don't know about you, but I'm totally hoping that my kids are successful and happy in life.
Grit also promotes so many other positive skills such as:
- A Growth mindset: the idea that they can work hard to get better at something.
- Perseverance: keep trying and not giving up
- Resilience: to get back up after a fall or a mistake or failure.
As an elementary school teacher, I see so many kids that do not demonstrate these skills. Kids give up very easily and frequently. This is a really big problem.
It is important for me to work on these skills with my child while he's young, so he grows up with Grit. I also want to help other parents with young kids start working on these skills early.
7 Ways you can build Grit in your child:
1. Let them do things for themselves.
Find opportunities for your child to practice doing things independently. When you let your child do things for himself, you are showing him that you believe in him.
However, if you're the kind of parent that always does things for your child (because it's quick and easier), then you are telling him that you don't have confidence in him.
Your child will think that you don't believe in his skills. Your child will think, "Oh, mom thinks I'm not capable so I'm not going to try."
A great way to practice this is by playing problem-solving games, puzzles, treasure hunts, and escape rooms. All these activities are fun for kids to practice their perseverance skills.
2. Find their Passions
Next, help him discover what he is interested in. Ask your child, "What do you want to get better at? What do you want to learn?" And talk to him about it.
I was surprised because I asked Brewer these questions a few months ago.
At first, it was challenging for him to come up with what he was passionate about and interested in doing. However, once we got rolling then he had so many ideas.
But initially, it was very hard.
It was awesome to see him thinking about things that he was interested in learning or doing. He felt important because he knew I was valuing his interests.
3. Set reasonable goals
Help your child come up with goals with which they are going to feel successful. Brewer's goal was that he wanted to learn how to draw a car.
This was a good goal because it was something that was difficult for him, he had to work at it, but it was something he could be successful with.
After he set his goal, I helped him develop a plan to achieve it.
We planned out small steps he could take to achieve the goal. It is good to start talking to your child about goal setting and coming up with plans while they are young.
4. Teach positive self-talk
We want to set our children up with a positive mindset. Positive self-talk can help. Check out our blog post about why adding "YET" to the end of "I can't" can have a powerfully positive impact on your child.
Positive self-talk can also promote a Growth Mindset.
5. Encourage your child to keep trying
A huge part of grit is tenacity. We want him to keep trying and persevering. It is important to check in with him and encourage him to keep going.
This leads us to the next tip.
6. Praise effort over ability
Don't say things like, "Oh wow, you're so smart!" Instead say, "I really like how hard you're working and how hard you're trying."
This encourages children to take on challenges instead of always choosing what is easy.
7. Model Grit for your child
You know the term, "monkey see, monkey do" or "actions speak louder than words." These are more than just cliches, they are actually so true!
Demonstrate for your child the skills and behaviors you want them to encompass. Be the model.