Supporting Grit Development

In an earlier post, we looked at the activities that help to build grit. In this post, we’re going to explore ways for supporting grit development and gritty behaviours. Just like a personal trainer who helps us work towards our health and fitness goals, we are going to learn how to function like grit trainers for our children.

Supporting Grit: Monkey See, Monkey Do

By far the most obvious way to support your child’s grit development is to model it. As parenting experts often say, our children will do what we do and not what we say.

Supporting grit - role model
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Like Angela Duckworth says in her “Hard Thing” Rule: everyone in the family should have a hard thing to work on. So what’s the hard thing that you’re working on?

The Grit Culture

Similarly to the “monkey see, monkey do” idea, we are who we surround ourselves with. So if we want our children to develop grit, we should encourage them to surround themselves with other gritty individuals who will help them cultivate their own grit.

Supporting grit - culture
Image Source: Pinterest

To take a leaf from some of the grittiest cultures, you can also foster your own grit culture by developing your own grit creed. Or you can borrow some famous grit quotes, if words of inspiration fail you. It doesn’t matter either way as long as you memorise those words and embody them. Here are a few good ones to get started with:

  • Nothing is impossible, the word itself says “I’m possible”! —Audrey Hepburn
  • Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right. —Henry Ford
  • Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence. —Vince Lombardi
  • Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. —Charles Swindoll
  • Remember no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. —Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve. —Napoleon Hill
  • When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it. —Henry Ford
  • It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light. —Aristotle Onassis
  • A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.—Albert Einstein
  • Limitations live only in our minds. But if we use our imaginations, our possibilities become limitless. —Jamie Paolinetti
  • Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear. —George Addair
  • Nothing will work unless you do. —Maya Angelou

Supporting Grit: Baumrind Parenting Styles

According to Parenting Science, the style of parenting that produces the best outcomes in child development is the authoritative style of parenting.

From Argentina to China, from the United States to Pakistan, the authoritative parenting style is consistently associated with superior outcomes (Steinberg 2001).

As researcher Laurence Steinberg has stated, “I know of no study that indicates that adolescents fare better when they are reared with some other parenting style” (Steinberg 2001).

Based on Baumrind’s research, children of authoritative parents are:

  • lively and happy disposition
  • self-confident about ability to master tasks.
  • well developed emotion regulation
  • developed social skills
  • less rigid about gender-typed traits (exp: sensitivity in boys and independence in girls)

Supporting grit - parenting styles

What is the Authoritative Parenting Style?

The authoritative parent attempts to direct the child’s activities but in a rational, issue-oriented manner. She [the parent] encourages verbal give and take, shares with the child the reasoning behind her policy, and solicits his objections when he refuses to conform. Both autonomous self-will and disciplined conformity are valued. [She values both expressive and instrumental attributes, both autonomous self-will and disciplined conformity] … Therefore she exerts firm control at points of parent-child divergence, but does not hem the child in with restrictions. She enforces her own perspective as an adult, but recognizes the child’s individual interests and
special ways. The authoritative parent affirms the child’s present qualities, but also sets standards for future conduct. She uses reason, power, and shaping by regime and reinforcement to achieve her objectives, and does not base her decisions on group consensus or the individual child’s desires. [… but also does not regard herself as infallible, or divinely inspired.] – Developmental Psychology

Authoritative parents:

  • listen to their children.
  • encourage independence.
  • place limits, consequences, and expectations on their children’s behavior.
  • express warmth and nurturing.
  • allow children to express opinions.
  • encourage children to discuss options.
  • administer fair and consistent discipline.

Grit Trainers Should be Authoritative

Why have we been talking about parenting styles? According to Angela Duckworth in her book Grit, parents, coaches, and teachers who are authoritative provide the best support for helping children to develop grit. Yes, parenting styles also apply to coaches and teachers. The way they respond to children will also impact what those children pick up on.

So when you’re choosing an extra-curricular activity for your child, you should look for a coach or teacher who demonstrates an authoritative approach to handling other children. In other words, you want a coach or teacher who is demanding and sets high (but achievable) standards for your child, but is also responsive to your child’s needs.

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Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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