I have a child who will often shy away from challenges. She won’t try to do new things. I know a lot of this comes from the fear of failure. The fear of not being good enough. There are many resources out there to explain the importance of grit and perseverance, but how do you teach it? As a parent I could leave it up to fate, but I want to put some grit into this parenting gig. I want all of my kids to succeed in life, so I’ve been digging deep into this topic and have found ways to teach this skill.
There’s an educational buzz phrase going around called growth mindset. This is when students know they can improve any skill when they work hard. This is an important phrase to instill into our kids, because as we all know not everything will come easy to us. The thrill of learning is when your hard work pays off. When something seemed so hard now becomes easy and enjoyable to do. People with a growth mindset will not only do better in life, but they will also find life more enjoyable.
My heart’s desire is for my daughter to develop her talents at her full potential. I want her to believe with persistence and hard work she can find creative solutions to any challenge that stands in her way.
“Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” – Angela Duckworth
How to Teach Grit
- The One Hard Thing Rule
NPR did a fabulous podcast on The Power and Problem of Grit. In this podcast, Angela Duckworth explains how her family practices one hard thing. Everyone must choose one hard thing to do and stick with it until the tuition payment is up. For example, we signed up my daughter for soccer. She didn’t want to do it, but we made her stick it out through the season and praised her for her effort. Make it a deliberate practice. Will she play soccer next year? Probably not. But she showed grit by working hard and making it through the season.
2. Chart Growth
She also bucked at reading. She didn’t want to read; didn’t want to read through sight word cards. However, when I explained we were going to do a bar graph to graph how long she could sit and work on her reading she immediately became interested. After 22 minutes of reading practice she was very excited to use her pink highlighter to color all the way up to the 22 min. mark. She couldn’t wait to try harder the next day.
3. Make It Purposeful
No one will do something if they can’t find a purpose in it. Writing was another skill my daughter was struggling to do. After listening to a scope from Jen Jones, I understood my daughter didn’t have a purpose for writing. Now when we write I make sure her writing is shared in some way.
4. Model Grit
Don’t just demand grit from your children, demand it of yourself. You should be practicing the one hard rule yourself. Read and study about people who show grit. Find quotes from famous people about perseverance, hard work, and not giving up. See this list of book resources.
5. Find An Interest
It’s important to find what your child is interested in doing. One way to find your child’s interest is to give them a “temperature check”. This is where you give your child a list of possible themes to study throughout the year. Dinosaurs? Countries? Animals? Do the same with extracurricular activities. Soccer? Dance? Art? After you have discovered your child’s interest and passion, work with them on making it a deliberate practice. How much can they learn about a certain country? How long can they practice soccer each day?
We all have our work cut out for us. Don’t just assume your child will pick up grit as they get older. Plant the seeds now to ensure a successful harvest.