There are many other ways to help your child develop the skill of grit. And they are as follows;
- Allow your child to make mistakes, and teach him to accept them.
It’s tempting to cushion our children from failure, but doing so only prevents them from learning valuable coping skills. Instead of preventing your child from failing, teach him how to handle failure appropriately. Teach him that:
- There’s no failure- only feedback. Teach him that failure is only an opportunity to go back to the drawing board and devise new and better strategies. “What went wrong this time? How can we prevent that from happening next time?”
- As much as you have your children share their successes, have them share their failures or mistakes. Failures and mistakes means children are trying or doing something challenging. This is where learning and growth stems from. Lead by example by sharing some of those moments you had either at a younger age, in your adult life and day-day interactions.
- There’s something to take away from Kelly Holmes, author of Happy You, Happy Family: When her child gets a spelling word wrong as they practice, Holmes gives her a high five and says, “High five, you’re learning!” Think about this. What do you think it will do the child’s attitude as regards learning and handling his mistake? Compare this to our default pattern of ridicule, intimidation, shout down and other coercive and demotivating approaches.
- Help your child set goals.
Work with your child to set at least one long-term goal, and then help him stick with it. It could be taking his grade from a C to an A, learn to repair a mobile phone, speak a foreign language, memorize some portion of the Holy Book… the list is as endless as your child’s creativity. Here are some goal-setting strategies you can use with your child:
- Let your child choose the goal, so it’s something that is meaningful to him.
- Chunk down the goal. This means breaking the big goal down into incremental steps that will make it more achievable. For instance, dedicate 30 minutes consistently every day to move closer to the goal.
- Discuss potential obstacles, and make an action plan for how your child will handle these obstacles if they occur. E.g., a family event that makes the set 30 mins daunting. How about moving it to an earlier part of the day? Adding 10 extra minutes for next consecutive 3 days? Etc.
- Write it all down. A goal is different from wishful thinking. The simple act of writing it down makes all the difference and research has shown that you’re 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you just put it in writing.
- Teach your child to problem solve.
When your child does struggle with problems or setbacks, brainstorm ways to solve the problem. You can offer suggestions like, “What if you stayed after school to get some extra help from your teacher?” or, “What if you started your homework a little earlier?” But it’s important to let your child contribute ideas too. This shows your child that problems are solvable, and it gives him a sense of power and control in the face of challenges.
- Praise effort, not ability.
It’s important to teach your child to have a growth mindset. This can be achieved by praising effort instead of ability.
When you praise effort, your child learns that he can achieve anything through hard work and practice. When you praise ability, your child receives the message that traits like intelligence are “fixed.” If he encounters a setback, he’ll feel that he’s reached the limit of his ability and is more likely to give up instead of exerting increased effort.
- Nurture your child’s passions.
Passion is a major component of grit, so help your child find and pursue his passions. Be supportive: You may want your child to be a star academician, only to find that his true passion is cooking or fashion. If that’s the case, be accepting and encouraging. This will nurture both your child’s grit and his self-esteem.
- Be a family that embraces challenges.
Heard about the Hard Thing Rule? This rule specifies that each member of the family must do one “hard thing.” It must be something that requires practice, and that allows for feedback and opportunities to get better. Family members must “try again and again” and continue improving.
By using any or all of these strategies including the one discussed last week, you’ll help your child develop the powerful tool of grit! So what are you waiting for? Get set…Go!