While 2020 was difficult, one unintended opportunity the pandemic provided us was an opportunity to teach our children grit. It takes grit to withstand today’s challenges. It’s not easy, but very important.
Grit is something every parent, and teacher, wants their kids to have and there is no better way to learn it than by actually practicing it today. Angela Duckworth, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, renowned TED speaker, and bestselling author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, published a landmark study on grit. Duckworth's research found that grit, self-control, reliance, and ambition were the most reliable predictors of success, not intelligence.
Research has shown that unlike IQ, which is relatively fixed, grit is the type of skill that anyone can develop. There is plenty you can do to help your students develop grit to help them succeed.
How can kids start building grit?
1. Help students adopt a growth mindset
Big Life Journal has a great printable guide for parents that teachers can adopt with a few simple tricks:
- Praise effort, progress, hard work NOT talents, gifts, or ability
- Use the power of “Yet” to remind kids they can do anything
- Recognize your own mindset, messaging, and actions
- Ask about your student's day, challenges, learnings
2. Help your students find something they love
You can even do this virtually! Interests change quickly but overtime they will find ones that stick. You can facilitate this by giving your students multiple opportunities to try as many new things online or in person as they can. Listen and be a sounding board.
Finding something children love can be time and cost intensive. An easy way to have kids explore their interests is through tract.app, a community made BY KIDS, FOR KIDS, the first of its kind online. Student Leaders host safe, fun, educational classes on various topics helping students explore what may interest them.
It aligns with the teachings of Angela Duckworth, mentioned earlier, and Carol Dweck, a Stanford Professor of Psychology. Dr. Dweck says that kids are more likely to succeed when they have a core purpose. We are trying to help all kids have the opportunity to find their calling online in a safe, productive environment where teachers don’t have to worry or supervise.
3. Communicate regularly and show your unwavering support
Teachers need to communicate with their students on a regular basis. You can tell stories that build optimism. You can tell personal stories of grit that you experienced. You can share famous failures.
Kids learn to be optimistic or pessimistic from the people in their lives, primarily being parents and teachers. I know it is hard but the alternative, being pessimistic, is worse. It is like a war today---humanity vs the virus, and our political situation makes it even harder. Winston Churchill’s wise words from the darkest time in WWII is still relevant now:
“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm”