When it comes to your child reaching their full potential, grit can be more important than intelligence, skill level and even grades, according to Angela Duckworth, expert on grit. Some kids are naturally more gritty than others but grit is something that every child can learn and continue to develop. Grit, the perseverance toward long-term goals, can help your teen be successful in all of their pursuits and passions.
Give your kid a challenge
Let your child have the opportunity to bust through barriers and cross boundaries in order to complete a goal or solve a problem. Placing a challenge in front of them will tell them that you believe in them and once accomplished, it can build confidence in your teen to confront other obstacles in life. Although all parents hate to see their children struggle, challenging your teen provides them with a valuable learning opportunity.
Help your child set goals
Let your teen pick at least one long-term goal and guide them to work toward fruition and stick with it without giving up. Your child is more likely to reach their goal when the hard work is worth it to them because it’s something that they are passionate about. Give them freedom to choose their path and their end goal which makes the journey and result much more meaningful and rewarding.
Let your teen practice something difficult
Allow your teen to pursue something that requires discipline to practice and grit to accomplish. Think piano, ballet, gymnastics, or any activity that demands patience and practice. Encourage your kid to try new things, even if the difficulty level is higher than other activities. Each person in Angela Duckworth’s family follows the “Hard Thing Rule,” which means that each person must try one thing that is difficult and that requires perseverance.
Teach grit through conversation
Weave in the topics of grit, perseverance and not giving up into dinner conversation, impromptu talks on the way home from school, or casual dialogue while making lunch. Talking about grit makes it more accessible and regular and not something so foreign and unreachable for your teen. Welcome discussions of how you or someone you know made it through a difficult time even when feelings of anxiety or discomfort were present. Talk about a news story or scene in a movie that displays grit or a lack thereof. Failure is not taboo; talk about it!
Instead of always applauding ability, praise effort. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t congratulate your teen when they’ve won a tennis match or show them how proud you are of their straight As. Praising effort means to applaud them along the journey to receiving an A or while they are working hard to improve their forehand stroke. It will teach your kid that they can achieve anything through hard work and practice. If they can transfer failure into a learning experience, they will be set to accomplish anything.
Be a role model
We all know that even though they will never admit it, our kids are watching us (and even listening to us!). Share your own struggles and how you overcame them with grace and determination in order to succeed. Talk about your past failures and how you got back up and kept going through defeat. Children mirror their parents so remain positive, try something even though it’s challenging, and ask your child for advice or thoughts in an appropriate situation.
Be patient with your teen
If your teen doesn’t get something perfect on the first try, be supportive, understanding and positive. The path to success won’t always be easy and could include bumps and bruises (literally and figuratively) along the way which will only make your kid tougher. Be there to listen but don’t be so quick to jump in with a solution when they’ve come to a roadblock. Let your teen figure out a plan on their own. Depending on their age, you can help them think through possible ways to work out the problem but let them lead the discussion. It will be a more powerful experience for your teen when they accomplish the task on their own.
It’s tempting to cushion your child from all negative experiences but with patience, your teen can push through the bad to make it to the great. Developing grit prepares your teen for future endeavors when an obstacle is present. No matter if it’s sports, music, school, or life happenings, grit will allow your child to remain strong, keep going, and persevere to accomplish their goals.