Several of my clients and friends have asked me about grit – resilience – and how they can foster it in their children. There are many mixed messages out there regarding how much to praise children and how to adequately challenge them. I broke down the psychological literature on grit and resilience into 6 tips on how to foster grit in children.
Real achievement happens when one conquers challenges. Give children a chance to triumph over something difficult and develop confidence in their abilities to confront a challenge. Trying new things and taking risks are important ways children learn.
2. PROMOTE PERSEVERANCE
Many of us hold on to the idea that skill comes naturally. This belief leads many kids to give up on things. Plus, it’s simply not true. Even naturally gifted people have to work hard to hone their ability with hours of practice. There are many examples of people (e.g., Einstein, Michael Jordan, Beethoven, etc.) who failed again and again but persevered and found success.
Provide the structure your children need to meet your expectations. Let your children know that you expect them to do their best and create a structure that will help them do so. Discuss the expectations when your child is learning any new skill. Schedule daily practice times and be consistent.
4. EXPECT FRUSTRATION
Frustration and boredom are natural parts of the learning process. Success rarely occurs on the first try. When children understand that learning isn’t supposed to be easy all the time—and that having a tough time doesn’t mean they’re stupid—perseverance comes more easily.
5. GUIDE, DON’T GIVE
Rather than jumping in with a solution when your children hit roadblocks, see if they can come up with solutions on their own. Resist the urge to do it for them. Talk them through the problem and help them think through the steps instead of telling them what they are. It is more powerful for children to be able to deal with adversity and overcome it. They learn that they are able to solve problems on their own.
6. ALLOW FAILURE
Let your children fall — and model grit. Being able to pick oneself up from low moments is an important skill to learn. Give them time to feel their negative emotions.
Remind children that it’s possible to be smart and accomplished and still lose. Share your own struggles. Children learn from you and how you model calm and determination in the face of your challenges.
Summit Performance Consulting LLC works with teachers, parents, and students. We teach students the mental skills necessary to have grit and to perform consistently well at high levels. We share with teachers sport psychology techniques they can use in their classroom to promote learning and decrease behavior problems. Contact us to learn more at 561-325-8363.
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