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Raising Grit

Raising Grit

Grit can be identified as a trait that embodies passion and perseverance to overcome obstacles and reach a difficult goal. It would be ideal if all children were motivated to work harder when challenges presented themselves. However, grit is present in different levels in different personalities.

Angela Duckworth, a well-known researcher on grit, explains the difference between grit and intelligence. Grit is the effort a child can put into trying to achieve success. This does not have to correlate with how smart he/she is, but rather it is how hard they try.

Although there is a genetic influence in how grit varies in individuals, environmental factors and experience can also play a role in how this quality is developed.

Here are some things to keep in mind to help our children cultivate their own grit.

  • Passion and Purpose: A foundation for perseverance is to identify and feel invested in what is being done. Allowing children to develop a passion from an interest or hobby that they have chosen themselves, will make them feel a sense of purpose and keep them motivated to press forward when things get tough.
  • Feeling Frustration: As parents, we tend to hate seeing our children struggle. However taking risks and struggling can be essential for problem solving and learning. Resisting the urge to problem solve for our children regardless of how simple the solution may be, will encourage children to resist quitting at the first instance of discomfort. Not all activities that children engage in need to be out of their comfort zone, however encouraging children to continue one activity that may be challenging could help them develop resilience.
  • Growth mindset: Carol Dweck speaks of a growth mindset which is a belief that one’s talent or abilities is not fixed but can be developed by effort rather than fixed at a certain level. This video speaks of how we can develop a growth mindset.
  • Effort vs. Accomplishments: The goal of a task does not need to be perfection. If you find yourself intervening with your child’s problem solving, be mindful of how this could affect their self-confidence. Regular and informal discussions with the family, where all members can openly talk about struggle, failure, acceptance for having those feelings and also talk about how they intend to overcome difficulties can help foster perseverance. Teaching children that failing is not the end, and brainstorming strategies together can help ease the unpleasant feelings that can be present for them.
  • Being a role model: A parent can say much when they want to tell a child how to persevere and not give up, but the best way to communicate this will be to show it. Discussions where parents are honest about their own feelings of failure, struggle and discomfort can help a child see that these feelings are not final and need not be feared.

If we were to look at how to support a child in developing grit, it is not to ensure that they are always successful or transform into high-achievers, it is with the intention to cultivate healthy levels of self-esteem and long-term happiness.

Warm regards,

The Counseling Team