A picture depicting reseilience and GRIT

Children in this century are used to getting everything now. These are the days of noodle meals, microwave oven, washing machine, cut vegetables and dressed chicken right from the market, instant poundo, GMOs, chauffer drive to the neighbours, Professor Google, fast internet, fast cars, instant gratification etc.

In as much as some of these advancement in human endeavor are commendable, we must be aware of the other salient things children are picking up (or missing on) in this environment and find deliberate ways to inculcate it in their day-day living.

“Grit” has recently become a popular buzzword in parenting and education. It’s defined by University of Pennsylvania psychologist Angela Duckworth as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.”

G.R.I.T (Guts, Resilience, Initiative, Tenacity)

According to Duckworth, grit is a better indicator of future success than IQ or talent. It is a leveler skill. One everyone needs, irrespective of personality, life style or genetic make-up. It’s a combination of determination, focus, passion, and resilience. It’s the ability to persevere, to go on and not give up, in the face of challenges and failure.

This is an all-important skill every parent need to consciously imbibe in their children. If you want to help your child develop this tool, it is all in your hands.

Children learn consciously and unconsciously. For instance, I have a daughter who when is in the care of her aunty, makes it to school before 7am. Why? Aunty is an early bird and likes to get to work for 7 too. On the other hand, I have no real drive to leave my house that early except I have an early flight to catch. The result? My take-it-easy attitude is soaked in by my daughter and the days I have to do school run, it’s a herculean task to get her out before 7am. She has learnt that with me, she can be a bit ‘laid back’.

This further proves that a child’s mind soaks it all up. When you are telling and not also doing, be sure they’ll mirror your example much more than heed your verbal instruction. So be a positive role model of grit for your child. Here are ways to do this:

  • Handle your mistakes with positivity and/or humor. Treat mistakes as a feedback, not failure. We grew up in an environment that judged mistakes as a negative thing. Something to be ashamed about. And this was right from early childhood. No thanks to our teachers who were quick to sing shame, shame, shame to us when we got an answer wrong! But hey, that was then. They did the best with what they had and knew. Today, we know better. We therefore should do better.

Mistakes will occur in our day-to-day thoughts, decisions and actions. This is not the time of anger, irritation and “if only…” Rather, don’t be hard on yourself. Treat it as a feedback, seek the learnings and take to them. Your child will mirror this from you and will not quit on a job, marriage or other projects because of a mistake or as sadly becoming more rampant, take her life because she didn’t make it in JAMB or was asked to retake a class.

  • Demonstrate a willingness to face challenges and persevere. Challenge yourselves every day and in the face of it, do not be tempted to give up. This could be as simple as trying to figure out how a device works, joining in a game with your child, trying out a different recipe, sticking to a diet plan or a healthy routine, keeping the phone out of the bedroom and dinning table etc.

When your child sees you going for that owambe and despite the array of MSG-cooked meals and sugar sweetened juices, cakes and creams, you stick to moimoi, creamless salad and pure, natural water, you are passing a powerful communication. When you show that with or without your car, you can make a few moments sacrifice of your comfort and go do the needful, you are demonstrating perseverance in the face of challenges and mirroring grit to your child.

  • Discuss mistakes and setbacks with your child, even asking your child for advice when appropriate. This is a great way to model to young children that adults and in fact no one, is perfect. We are all in a state of constant learning and growth. We make mistakes. We experience setback. When we do, we don’t sulk about it. We don’t quit. Rather, we talk about it, seek advice what to do better next time and imbibe those. Same way, when your child experiences a setback say in his studies, rather than rush to reprimand, scold or condemn, take a shift. Ask questions that will lead you to reflect if where he is, is where he desires, the long term implication of where he is, what he may do differently another time etc.

When we begin to look at mistakes and setbacks in this light, we are modelling determination, focus, passion, and resilience. We are modelling grit. On your marks

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