Wednesday, October 14, 2015

5 Ways to Teach Your Kids Grit

This is a portion of an interesting article by Kelly Wallace that I read on CNN.com.  My wife and I try to raise our kids in such a way that they will work hard and not give up because something is hard.  I thought this article provided a few practical insights on doing that.  

Would you add anything to this list?

Our culture is so instant right now, added Koval. "When we were growing up ... there was an expectation that you kind of had to work really hard if you wanted something to happen. And while you still have to work really hard if you want something to happen in our culture, we hide a lot of that. So it does look like you can become instantly successful."
What can you do to raise a child who knows what grit is, and works on developing grit, so they can deal with life's challenges that will inevitably come their way? I have boiled down Kaplan Thaler and Koval's helpful advice with five tips:

#1 -- Make your kids make their beds

In their book, the co-authors talk about how Adm. William H. McRaven, during a commencement address at his alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin, said the No.1 lesson he learned from his Navy SEAL training was making your bed. That's right, not the brutal training that goes into being a Navy SEAL. The top lesson was making his bed every morning. It starts you off in the beginning of the day doing something that you have to learn how to do perfectly, said Koval, and if you, by chance, have a terrible day, when you come home, at least you've done one thing right. 
"We tend to want to create such wonderful environments for our kids and maybe don't push (them) enough" when it comes to chores, Koval added. "It's such simple easy advice to follow ... It's really easy to make them make their beds."

#2 -- Don't pack their camping gear

When you child is going on a camping trip (or sleepover, or you name it), don't pack for them, said Kaplan Thaler. "It's OK if they forget something. And so what if they forget the flashlight? They won't forget it the next time when they are walking around in the dark." It's so hard as a parent to remember that, she admits, but eventually our children are going to learn these lessons on their own, so it's better they learn it when they are young.

#3 -- Encourage your kids to solve small problems

Kids, and adults for that matter, too often see a problem, get overwhelmed by the size and scope of it and then become paralyzed and do nothing about it, said Kaplan Thaler. Instead of trying to solve problems that feel unsolvable, we should find easier problems and solve those first. 
"So ... do this with your kids and say, 'OK, you say that you can't do the science project but [what] can do you? What are the three sources that you could look at every day? Let's make a list.'"

#4 -- Praise the effort, not the end result

This one can't be repeated enough, especially in our ultra-competitive, testing culture that places an extraordinary emphasis on grades from elementary school up through college. As schools are teaching grit and resilience, part of the grade is determined by the effort that went into the activity, said Kaplan Thaler. "And that's the thing that we should be applauding. Not like, 'Gee, this was a breeze and I got a B,' but 'Wow, I worked harder than I've ever worked and I went from a D to a C plus.' Whatever it is ... you want that approval to come from the effort."

#5 -- Everyone can learn grit

If you have more than one child, no doubt one might be naturally grittier than the other, but that doesn't need to be a constant for the rest of their lives. Grit is a trait you can develop, said Koval. 
"So for kids who are naturally not as gritty, I think it is finding ways for them to see that success does come from grit," she said. Letting your child occasionally fail also helps them learn grit, she said. So does helping them find the things they really love to do and are successful doing. 
When high school and college kids hear this message, it doesn't demoralize them, it empowers them, said Kaplan Thaler. They might think they are already at a disadvantage because of their grades, test scores or the schools they attend. "What we tell them is it doesn't matter. What matters is something, we call it humanity's a great equalizer ... It's all about the work ethic and what you put into a job. And I say my money's going to be on the person still standing when your boss tells you do it over, do it over, do it over. That's where the successful people are."

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