Grit has become the new buzzword in education and parenting thanks to Paul Tough’s best-selling book, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character.
But what is it?
Grit is perserverance and resiliancy. It’s the ability to persist even when you do not initially succeed. It’s a “growth mindset”: understanding that sometimes things will get harder before they get easier, and that’s ok.
There has been a lot of writings recently on how the current generation of kids have become accustomed to instant gratification. They are used to getting what they want, when they want it. The problem is… The rest of their lives won’t work that way, and it can cause a host of problems later on in life including impatience, a habit of quitting, and even depression.
So, how do we help kids learn a growth mindset? They need to learn to delay gratification.
An episode on Modern Family last season featured the dilemma of Haley not having any hardship to write about on her college application. Her mom created one by dropping her off miles from home and making her walk home. It was a humorous example of a real problem — Colleges want to see that our kids have some “grit,” because they will need it to complete college. But for many kids, their lives have not been conducive to developing that particular trait. Life is often too easy for kids on the higher end of the socioeconomic spectrum.
– Sunshine Parenting
It’s important for children to experience “hardship” in small, healthy doses. Presenting safe, yet challenging situations where a child learns that their OWN actions will determine their own success or failure is what will give them the strength to tackle more difficult situations later on in life. It’s key for them to recognize that failure only STAYS a failure if you give up.
We promote “true grit” at camp every time we introduce a camper to a new activity. They might not make a basket their first try, but they might on the fifth. The magic trick might not work the first time, but with practice, it will. You might have to do several drafts of a drawing before you get it right. Getting kids past that first hurdle so that they have the strength to “do better next time” is what it’s all about.