What Is Grit? – Kids With Grit – Part 1

Note: This is Part 1 of our series on Grit..
Check out Part 2: The Hard Thing Rule and Part 3: Celebrate the Efforts.

It’s the gritty kid who crashes her bike, winces at the scraped knee, and hops on to try again, and again, and again. It’s in that boy who passionately plucks out notes on a ukulele day after day, determined to learn his favorite song. You see it in the kids who practice free throws instead of half-court shots, who submit poems for publication, or stick with hard math problems until the answer is found. We all want our kids to do stuff like that. We want our kids to have grit. Truth be told, we probably need a bit more for ourselves.

What is Grit?

Grit is passion and perseverance. It’s the zest and drive that keeps a song in your heart and an eye on the prize even when the chips are down. Those who have it remain focused on their goals while enduring all those inevitable setbacks. This character trait is a better predictor of future success than grades, IQ, family income, or educational pedigree. Further, it’s powerful armor against loss, embarrassment, and failure!

How to Get Grit!

Grit and how to teach it is already a regular conversation and conundrum in the world of education. Four years ago, my school district had all us principals read How Children Succeed by Paul Tough. I don’t like being told what to read, but I do declare: It’s one definitive book on grit. Sure, It’s pretty dry and it’s overstuffed with studies and facts and figures, and not every parent will read it. So, to save valuable reading time, we’ll break it down for you.

Your job isn’t to save kids from falling on their faces; it’s to show them how to keep going after they do, bruises and all. The grittiest kids have a mentor or coach who helps them learn to focus, plan, and strive. And that’s where you come in.

Developing grit is intertwined with the development of a growth mindset. Although you may have not heard of it, your school-age kids are likely being introduced to it. Most schools have bought or developed curriculum around the body of research and practices spearheaded by Dr. Carol Dweck. Perhaps your child is being taught how to regulate their emotions or all about how their brain learns and grows. This is all part of Growth Mindset training. Dr. Angela Duckworth, also a leader in the field of Grit, has some highly effective grit-growing methods up her sleeve, too. Her “The Family Hard Thing Rule” is one of the best. We will connect you to the best of these practices to make your kid the grittiest in town.

What’s Next

GRIT may not have been in the front of your mind, but I bet it is now. Gritty kids win spelling bees and put on their own band-aids. They do NOT live in your basement as grown men or quit learning guitar after the second lesson because they can’t immediately play that Mat Kearney song they love.

Want help on having the kid with a full-ride scholarship to Stanford? The 10-year-old published author? Or maybe just the kid who grows his own vegetable garden? Well, we’ve got the quick tips and easy tricks that’ll work, harvested from actual smart people and used with real kids in real classrooms and homes.

Over the next few weeks MPP will expand your knowledge and grit practices, but not in a boring way. No graphs, tables, or charts. No lectures. Expect clearly explained activities and strategies, simply outlined so you can inspire, motivate, and get them a little grittier each day.

This is just the beginning (Part 1 of our series on Grit). Check out Part 2 right now, The Hard Thing Rule – Getting Grittier as a Family.

Mostly Team Effort

Mostly Team Efforts are collaborative articles that often bounce between experts, our own Chris Sullivan, questions from parents (ourselves, or friends of ours), and our advisors. But we love your questions and suggestions, so please let us know what you think.

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