By Dina Halaseh, Educational Psychologist
Do you want your child to view challenges as opportunities for growth? Do you want your child to be successful in the face of adversity? It may have little to do with intelligence and more to do with passion and perseverance.
If there is one thing that keeps standing out repeatedly among achievers, whether students or entrepreneurs, it is their level of perseverance or grit.
One of the best skills any child can have growing up in this crazy world is to maintain perseverance when things get hard and put effort into improving themselves. Adopting this is positively related to having a growth mindset. A growth mindset is defined as believing that we can improve in terms of skills, and even intelligence. The amount of growth will be a direct result of the amount of effort we put in.
Angela Duckworth explains the importance of grit in her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. She points out how the secret of succeeding has little to do with talent and more with passion and persistence, or in other words “grit”. She describes how grit can change with time and we can help our family and children increase theirs!
That’s why Duckworth introduced The Hard Thing rule with three main steps you can try with your family:
- Everyone picks a hard thing to learn or practice, including mama and baba!
The whole family meets and decides on what each person should commit to doing. Each family member picks something challenging that normally requires practice. This task can range from playing a new musical instrument, learning a new language or even sticking to exercising or playing sports.
The main idea behind picking your thing is to choose something that needs deliberate practice. Deliberate practice requires us to focus on stretching ourselves and our abilities beyond our comfort zone. The goal should be to focus on a weak area that needs change and improvement. Even though it takes effort and time, doing something hard helps increase our grit.
- It’s important to know that you can stop doing the thing you picked only after time passes or there is a natural break
The whole idea behind the hard thing rule is that you can only quit the activity you started after your commitment ends. This could be the planned finish date or the normal break or end of season for an activity. For example, joining the basketball team in school, the practice naturally stops when the school year ends. The main reason to do this is to complete the activity and not quit because things got hard.
- Everyone gets to pick their own hard thing
One of the things that excites people to do this is that everyone gets to pick their own hard thing. The ability to choose gives us control and increases our motivation to stick to having grit! Someone forced into a task they hate won’t put as much effort in it and is likely to end up hating the activity.
With time, you can require a certain level and length of commitment. These commitments will result in improving the whole family’s grit!
The Children’s Museum Jordan’s Brain Tease
Children will learn that having perseverance yields positive results.
What you’ll need
An ice block with a prize inside – could be a small toy or something your child desires
- To make the ice block, fill a plastic container with water, place the prize inside and freeze
- Give your child the frozen block. Explain that they can get the prize on one condition: to get it out of the ice block without hitting or breaking the block
- Encourage your child to strategise and think of a solution and cheer them on. With patience and perseverance, your child will eventually get their prize
- Discuss with them the importance of not giving up. Ask them:
“Did you feel like quitting?” Discuss how quitting might keep great things from happening
“Could you have gotten the prize quicker had you broken the rule?” Talk about what it would feel like to win without following the rules
You can contact Dina Halaseh at email@example.com