Creative Child

Why Grit is the Most Important Quality for Early Success

by Deborah Song on Jul 6th, 2016

Encourage Your Children and Teach Grit

Encourage by example. The Duckworth lab’s research, which was undertaken in partnership with classroom teachers, showed that students became less frustrated with the learning process and put forth more effort in achieving early success when they understood even experts struggle to learn their craft. Share your own experiences of being gritty or introduce gritty role models through books so they can begin to understand, as Albert Einstein said, “genius is 99 percent perspiration and 1 percent inspiration.” 

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Commit. Whether it’s soccer, ballet, or a capella, have your child finish the season or term once they’ve enrolled or started something. They may hate it, in which case it may be torturous to watch. But it’s a good opportunity to teach them grit. Subjecting them to something they hate repeatedly may not be great for their confidence. But making them stick it out for the season will teach them about commitment.

It also shows kids that mommy and daddy won’t bail them out at the first onset of discomfort or boredom. While you can encourage early success as a parent, it’s up to the child to make the commitment. Once the season is over, even if they never enroll in the same sport or activity again, celebrate their completion as a way to praise the effort and not the result.

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Help discover and nurture their passion. One of the characteristics of “gritty” people, the Duckworth Lab discovered, is they are “especially motivated to seek happiness through focused engagement and a sense of meaning or purpose.” In other words, one of the necessary requisites for cultivating long-term grit and success is passion.

It may be years or decades before your child discovers his own. And putting too much pressure to find a passion can be counter-productive. But continuously piquing your child’s curiosity and exposing them to what they like and excel in is a great way to help your child discover his own passion.

If you're looking for ways to encourage passion in your child's pursuit, read 7 Ways to Inspire a Child to Practice an Instrument (Without Tears) or 4 Ways to Encourage Your Child's Artistic Pursuits.

Deborah Song is a Los Angeles-based writer and the mother of two girls. She received her master’s in journalism from New York University and writes about parenting, business and kid entrepreneurship. You can read more of her work at lemonadepost.com.

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