Greetings! This week’s theme is a perfect one to start out the school year. We are talking about cultivating the character quality of GRIT.
What is grit? The idea of grit was developed by Angela Duckworth, a psychology researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. Grit is defined as the perseverance and passion to achieve long-range goals. Sometimes it is referred to as mental toughness, but however it is defined, having grit is a strong predictor of success and the ability to reach one’s personal goals over a lifetime. Even though IQ is a better predictor of SAT scores, grit has been found by researchers to be a better indicator of GPA and graduation rates. Couple this with findings that GPA is a better predictor of college success than SAT scores, and you find that grit is critical component of educational success.
How do we develop grit in our children? Here are a few helpful suggestions.
- Become familiar with grit and learn how to implement more of it in your own life. Kids learn best by modeled behavior from their caregivers. Google grit and watch Angela Duckworth explain the concept. Read books such as How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough. Talk to your children about what you are learning and how it is helping you achieve your own personal goals.
- Foster safe circumstances for children to develop grit. Grit grows in children as they face life’s hard circumstances and succeed. This is best done in small steps rather than large ones. Outdoor activities which require endurance and perseverance are great opportunities to develop grit. Hiking, camping, cross-country skiing can all be used to encourage children to not give up. Our helpful presence, empathy and commitment to their success will challenge them to new levels of endurance.
- Help children develop intentional habits. Creating habits will require grit. This can be done at home in daily life with a constant flow of personal hygiene habits, chores, animal care and academic studies. Habits require self-control which helps develop grit. Grit is the ability to reach goals through daily habits which allows children to stick to a schedule and overcome distractions and challenges. Consistency is the key to grit.
- Recognize when we need more grit or we need to quit. As great as developing grit is, there are times when it becomes detrimental to our children’s mental health. Things can be pushed too far. So it is important to teach when it is time to quit. This might not be the time or season for a particular gritty situation or something is outside a student’s talents. Learning to know when it is OK to quit, requires support and insight.
Hopefully, your year can be full of deepening grit in those areas where you want to see more success. Talk with your children and help them find areas where they are excited to take their talents to new levels. Make grit a new goal in your family life.
Peace of Jesus,