Welcome Back! I hope that everyone had a relaxing and enjoyable holiday with your children. Following any school break, it usually takes our children a few days to get back into the regular routine of school, homework and early to beds! This is a perfect time to introduce the concept of grit otherwise known as perseverance and bouncing back from challenge. Grit is not a math equation or English poem. It is a day to day value that manifests in all areas of life. And it is worthwhile gift to give our children.
Seeing our children struggle at anything is painful for us to watch. Our natural inclination as parents is to help them avoid anything that is hard for them. However, research suggests parents who encourage their children to have grit will actually develop more resiliency, have greater confidence and will actually be more successful! Dr. Angela Duchworth, Ph.D., at the University of Pennsylvania has been researching what makes people successful for the past twenty five years. What she found in her research is that grit is the biggest predictor of success not intelligence or academic achievement.
Dr. Duchworth suggests five ways parents can encourage grit in their children:
- Challenge your child: I know this may seem the last thing you want to do but give your child an opportunity to work hard and exert effort actually gives them a chance to develop confidence. If your child is struggling with spelling, math, Chumash or cooperating during class, brainstorm ways with your child to make progress an area. This could also be in a new sport or hobby. Even if your child doesn’t show any natural talent, encourage them to give it a try.
- Promote perseverance: In this generation where everything comes quickly to all of us, this is a treasured value for us to reignite and make important. Teach children to keep trying. Even if your child is struggling, keep encouraging them to try. Remind them of the deep satisfaction they will get once they finish what they are striving for – regardless of their success.
- Be a Nudge in a Loving and Caring Way –Don’t leave it to your child to practice their sight words, math facts or read nightly. Become an active cheerleader for your child accomplishing grit. Remind them of how proud you are of them for trying. Encourage them to keep going if you feel they are discouraged.
- Welcome boredom and frustration. Learning isn’t always supposed to fun and easy. Sometimes it’s boring and monotonous. Validate your child’s frustrations and remind them success takes ploughing through the boredom. Instead of immediately jumping in to solve your children’s problem, help them brainstorms solutions to their boredom and frustrations. If your child has a big project coming up, instead of offering her/him the solution, help them generate their own ideas.
- Failure is not a tragedy. Teach your child to recover from low moments. Whether it is not doing well on a test, missing the winning shot in basketball or not doing well on their book report, validate for your child that it doesn’t feel great to fail but model resilience for them on ways to pick yourself up. If you had a hard day, share with your child that you had a hard day but you are focusing on the blessings in your life to remind you of what’s important.
Wishing you the best of luck!
Ali Gutfreund, Registered Marriage and Family Therapist Intern
Source: Duckworth, Angela. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, 2016.
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