If GRIT is so important, what can parents do to instill it?
1. At West Wing School we are working to include the development of qualities such as perseverance, conscientiousness, self-control, and curiosity in the curriculum. This is based on the leading research by Dr. Angela Duckworth called GRIT.
2. Learn more about grit! At Dr. Angela Duckworth’s University of Pennsylvania site, you can take a test to figure out your own “grit” score, or your child’s.
3. Instead of praising your child for his/her grades or for being “smart,” praise him for being tenacious and determined. Focusing on those qualities of “stick-to-it-ness” may help children succeed more than praise for particular achievements. If your child falls down when learning to ride a bike, praise his efforts at getting back up and trying again and again, rather than only praising when he learns to ride fast on his own
4. Allow your child to get frustrated. Sometime parents hate to see their children struggle. It is important to learn from our challenges (as well as our failures). This is the key to making the connection for kids that “true achievement doesn’t come easily.”
5. Try to focus your family discussions on effort rather than grades or innate skill. Work to be a role model for your child of “grittiness”. Try new things and talk about how difficult they are and how they don’t come easily to you. Talk about your own goals —running a half-marathon, cleaning out the basement —and explain how you set smaller goals to achieve them. Share your own struggles and how you got past them.
6. Most of all, remind your children every day that failure is not something to be afraid of. If you’re interested in “grit” and the theory of how it impacts your child’s educational and lifetime achievement, listen to a phenomenal podcast of NPR’s This American Life. Paul Tough is interviewed about How Children Succeed, as well as some of the kids who are featured in his book.You can also check out Angela Duckworth’s TED Talk, “The Key to Success? Grit.”