You obsess over your child’s future. I know because I do the same. There are so many traits we want to develop in our kids. They are all important but going after all of them can seem overwhelming.
Unfortunately there isn’t enough time or money to do everything. As parents, we need to be selective.
What is the one thing you can do?
“Why, you might ask? What makes Grit so special?”
The reason to encourage grit is simply that it’s one of the key factors that will drive your child’s success and resiliency in the years to come. There are so many benefits that you could write a whole book just to list and describe them. For full disclosure, that’s exactly what I did. For the purpose of this post, we will cover just the most prominent ones below.
• To foster effort over talent so that kids understand that their current ability can be improved and formed into mastery
• To encourage calculated risk taking so that children can reach for their dreams without having a paralyzing fear of failure
• To benefit others by converting your kids’ interests and purpose into actions to improve your community
“Sounds promising, but can you convince me some more?”
To foster effort over talent
“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” – Tim Motke
Vast amount of research says that if students are talented we begin to lavish attention on them and hold them to higher expectations. We expect them to excel and that expectation becomes self-fulfilling prophecy.
Fostering high expectations at any talent level is sure to spur a greater effort in your kids.
Attempting to do tasks they’re not quite good at, not getting results they wanted, and learning what they need to improve is exactly the way world-class performers practice.
Feelings of frustration and wishing they could do things better are a normal reaction in purposeful practice. Practice to eliminate areas of weak performance should be encouraged at every opportunity.
“In doing something over and over again, something that was never natural becomes almost second nature. “
To encourage calculated risk taking
Risk seems to be a bad word. When we hear it, we think of it, we start getting a knot in our stomachs. Why? With risk can come failure and that causes us stress just thinking about it. Your kids need to learn to use stress as a springboard for overcoming setbacks and by so doing learn to take calculated risks. Scientists explain it this way. There are primitive low order places in the brain, like the amygdala, that respond to negative experiences. As we handle stress and overcome obstacles, we are teaching our pre-frontal cortex that we can handle challenges. When we encounter the next challenge, our pre-frontal cortex moderates the message sent by the amygdala and calms us down. This in turn allows us to overcome the obstacle.
When do kids learn to fear failure? It happens earlier than you think. Before they even get to first grade, they begin to realize that their blunders invoke certain reactions in adults. What do the adults do? We wrinkle our brows. We hurry over to our little boys and girls to let them know that they’ve messed up. What’s are we teaching them? Humiliation, anxiety, and disgrace. Kids learn that not succeeding is bad, really bad. To protect their feeling of self-worth, they will learn to not take risks and stop striving to be their best.
What can you do? Try what studies have proven to be effective, emotion-free mistake making modeling. Commit an error on purpose and then let kids catch you. Then model the correct way to prevent the mistake.
For example, let’s say your child is learning how to be organized and to not forget their homework in school. After coming home from work, you can say to your kid “I forgot my notebook at home because I was rushing to work. I wish I would have written a reminder in my calendar. I’ll do that now so that I don’t forget it tomorrow.”
“Model mistake making for your children.”
To benefit society
Ryan Hreljac, a Canadian kid, was shocked to learn that children in Africa had to walk many miles a day just to get clean water. By doing chores and public speaking, he financed a well in a Ugandan village. His effort and determination led to Ryan’s Well Foundation which brings access to clean water to more than 714,000 people.
Just like Ryan, your child can put forth can have benefits way beyond your family. We all want to make an impact, so imagine how incredibly satisfied your kids will be if their efforts lead to improving the lives of others. You can play a part in this by encouraging grittiness in your children.
David Yeager, a prominent psychology professor, recommends reflecting on how the work a person is already doing can make a positive contribution to society. I like to think that applies to kids as well. If your child is involved in coaching younger kids in their favorite sport or tutoring kids in a subject after school, they are directly benefitting society.
Why? The children they help will improve and by doing so they in turn will be more productive and happier. In some cases the kids your child helped will help others become better.
“Trigger a chain reaction of benefit to others. The effects are multiplied because each of us enriches the lives of all of us.”
Whew! These are all good reasons to encourage grit. I’ve got some more for you but I need to go and be a dad now so more on that later.
What do you believe is the top trait to develop in your kids? Please reply in the comments section below.
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