Grit

Our word for this term is ‘Grit’ and forms an integral part of The Character Initiative.

What is grit?

Grit is the passion, perseverence and stamina for long term goals. Viewing life as a marathon, not a sprint.

Up until recently, educators have focussed on student’s cognitive development, things that can be tested by standardised tests, like IQ or maths. However, research suggests that qualities other than cognitive attributes are essential for students to achieve in the long term – grit and determination have more of an impact on success than innate intelligence or raw talent.

Researchers in the mid-80s (Bloom 1985) undertook a qualitative study of the development of world-class pianists, neurologists, swimmers, chess players, mathematicians and sculptors. Only a few (of the 120 in the sample) were regarded as prodigies by their teachers, parents or experts. Instead these individuals had worked day after day, for between 10 and 15 years to reach the pinnacle of their careers. Bloom observed that in every field the qualities possessed by the high achievers included a strong interest in their chosen field, a desire to reach a higher level and a willingness to put in great amounts of time and effort.

More recently, Professor of Psychology, Angela Duckworth, has sought to discover the link between grit and success. Watch this video to find out about the surprising outcomes of her studies.

How can we teach our children grit?

Unlike IQ, grit in something that can be developed in your child. Firstly, Growth Mindset is key. Children who have developed a strong growth mindset are more likely to persevere when they fail, because they don’t take it personally, instead they see it as an opportunity to learn from their mistakes.

Challenge your child

If your child never has a chance to master something difficult, they may never develop confidence in their ability to confront a challenge. Taking risks is an important way kids learn.
Promote perseverence
Many of us hold on to the idea that if we are good or bad at something it’s because we were born that way. This results in many of us giving up on something too quickly. Learning to push through the discomfort of feeling out of your depth is a great strength.
Welcome boredom and frustration
Success is usually a long road with all sort of challenges to navigate along the way. Being confused, frustrated, and sometimes completely bored is part of the journey. When children understand that learning isn’t supposed to be easy all the time—and that having a tough time doesn’t mean they’re stupid—perseverance comes easier.

Instead of jumping in with a solution, talk through the problem: “What do you think might work instead?” This allows the child to  develop their problems solving skills.

Allow failure and model resilience
Being able to pick themselves up from low moments is probably the most important skill a child can learn. Children learn from the adults around them, so if you want your children to handle setbacks with grace and calmness, then show them these traits when you are having difficulties.
Praise the process, not the product
When discussing their achievements, talk to your children about the effort they put in, how hard they worked, the obstacles they overcame, rather than the outcome.
Nurture and encourage their passions!

How gritty are you?

Why not see how gritty you are by taking Angela Duckworth’s test here.