Frank Schofield, superintendent, Logan City School District
Anyone who has seen the movie Rocky is familiar with the image of Rocky Balboa running to the top of the steps outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art. When he reaches the top, he celebrates his determination in overcoming a challenge.
This determination is the same perseverance that allows individuals to overcome challenges and face obstacles. As children develop this perseverance, commonly referred to as “grit,” they are more successful in their endeavors, including school.
So how can parents and adults help children learn to persevere in the face of difficulties? Dr. Angela Duckworth, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, said there are several steps parents can take to help their children develop these skills.
Put challenges in front of them. True achievement happens when people bust through boundaries and barriers. If your child never has a chance to triumph over something difficult, he or she may never develop confidence in their ability to confront a challenge. Taking risks is an important way children learn. So give your child the opportunity to pursue at least one difficult thing. The actual activity doesn’t matter as much as their effort.
Be a nudge. Let your kids know that you expect them to do their best and create a structure that will help them do so. Simply sharing what your expectations are is the first step. When your child is learning a new skill or working on an athletic or musical endeavor, push them to practice and do their best. Your child still might make a few complaints, but if you’re consistent, your child might begin to appreciate the benefits later on.
Welcome boredom and frustration. Success rarely comes on the first try. In fact, there’s usually a pretty long road peppered with all sort of bumps and potholes. Being confused, frustrated and sometimes bored is a part of the journey. And 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 not capable — perseverance comes easier. Instead of jumping in with a solution when your child hits a setback, see if he or she can come up with a solution on their own. Help them talk through the problem, and think through the steps.
Let them fall, and model resilience. Being able to pick themselves up from low moments is probably the most important skill a child can learn. Share your own struggles. Kids learn from the adults around them, so if you want your children to handle setbacks with grace, model determination in the face of yours. When they see you bounce back from challenges, it provides a powerful learning experience for them.
These are just a few ways to help your child develop “grit” that can help them overcome challenges and difficulties. As they learn this principle, they will be better able to accomplish their goals and create a positive future for themselves.