How to raise a ‘gritty’ kid

Published by MAXSolutions on October 11, 2018
How to Raise a ‘Gritty’ Kid

Grit has been associated with success in many areas[1]. Most notably in education where grit is a better predictor of grades than intelligence.Gritty people also have better wellbeing and more positive emotions[2].

Grit can be defined as the determination to accomplish an ambitious long term goal despite the inevitable obstacles[1]. Similar to motivation and self-discipline, grit involves passion and persistence.


How can you raise gritty kids?

If grit is more important to success than the talent kids are born with, how can we maximise their potential?

Duckworth[1], a world leader in research into grit, says “one could argue that if you don’t have a lot of raw ability, it’s doubly important to be focused, hardworking and able to bounce back from setbacks.” According to Duckworth, grit can probably be taught, or at least encouraged.


8 things you can do to encourage grittiness in children[3]

  1. Help children find their passion. If your child is passionate about what they are doing and can see the purpose of using math to achieve their goals, it is much easier to overcome obstacles
  2. Worry less about balance. It’s impossible to be outstanding at everything. If your children are doing something that they have a strong interest in and they are excelling at it, encourage them!
  3. Provide constructive criticism lessons. Unthinking criticism delivered at the wrong moment can quickly crush budding enthusiasm; and cause your child to lose passion (and therefore grit). Teaching children how to receive and give constructive feedback may allow them to reap the benefits of such comments without loss of motivation
  4. Be a model of grittiness. Your children will learn much more from what you do than they will from what you say. If you demonstrate grit in your own pursuits they are more likely to copy
  5. Praise effort rather than ability. If you praise effort rather than the abilities they are born with (such as intelligence), this will encourage effort, grit and hard work rather than a belief they can rely solely on their innate attributes
  6. Offer challenges. Learning to overcome adversity is best achieved with practice. If you offer your children difficult tasks that are still achievable you will be helping them learn how to persevere in the face of difficulty – an important aspect of grit
  7. Teach them to handle and learn from failure. It is important to learn to emotionally deal with setbacks and to develop appropriate coping strategies. Being amazing does not require perfection
  8. Encourage optimism. Studies have found a link between grit and optimism. It is hard to set goals and to persevere without a positive sense of the future. Help your child imagine what it will be like when they succeed; if they can imagine vividly and in detail they will be more likely to succeed.

Although extremely persistent people are usually passionate about their work, that doesn’t mean the passion always comes first. Perseverance, notes Duckworth[1], can foster passion.

Interestingly, Duckworth only discovered her passion for grit after she had been studying it for a while. It is noted that many expert musicians only found their love for the instrument after a certain level of proficiency was attained.

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1. Duckworth, A. L. (2006). Intelligence is not enough: Non -IQ predictors of achievement (Order No. 3211063). Available from Psychology Database(305257845)

2. Hill, P. L., Burrow, A. L., & Bronk, K. C. (2016). Persevering with positivity and purpose: An examination of purpose commitment and positive affect as predictors of grit. Journal of Happiness Studies, 17(1), 257-269. doi:

3. Doskoch, P; Carlin, F; The Winning Edge; Psychology today; Nov/Dec 2005; 38, 6; Psychology Database pg 42.

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