If grit is more important for success than talent or intelligence, parents can do their kids a big favour by helping them become “grittier”. Psychology Today offers a few tips to banish the discouragement and disillusionment that can make children lack the grit that can help them do well in life.
Picture: Grey World
Dr Kenneth Barish writes:
As a child and adolescent therapist, I have talked with many students who lacked grit. As [Angela Lee Duckworth, who gave the TED talk on grit] tells us, they are often talented and smart. But when it is time to write an essay, practice an instrument, or study for an exam, they procrastinate or give up. Parents, worried about their child’s future, urgently ask, “Why can’t he ‘connect the dots’ between effort and success? Why doesn’t he care?”
In my experience, the answer to these questions is almost always, “Because he is discouraged.” Discouragement, the story goes, is the devil’s favourite tool, “because it makes all my other tools more effective.”
Children may mask their discouragement with defiant or rebellious attitudes, or by blaming others, and they may pretend that they don’t care. Children say they don’t care, but they do care.
Besides being more encouraging (without over-praising), you can teach your kids to overcome discouragement by sharing your own disappointments and frustrations, and how you’ve bounced back from them:
All constructive activity involves moments of anxiety and frustration, discouragement and self-doubt. Children who lack grit too readily give in to these feelings. Often, they anticipate criticism instead of encouragement (and they may have become self-critical). To improve their skills, children need criticism. But they need encouragement even more. Persistent criticism is deeply destructive to any child’s initiative and perseverance.
If we pay attention, as [psychologist] Carol Dweck advises, not only to a child’s performance, but also to the process of learning, we will observe these moments of anxiety and frustration. We now have an opportunity to talk with kids, to let them know that frustrations are part of life, that we have also experienced disappointments, and that we have bounced back. Many young children seem to benefit from talking about the disappointments and frustrations endured by their heroes, baseball players, for example, who sometimes strike out. In baseball, it is often said, even the best hitters fail twice as often as they succeed.
How Can We Help Our Children Become “Grittier”? [Psychology Today]