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True Grit and the Value of It

Teachers and parents hear a lot about “grit” today. We worry that we may not be providing the experiences children need to develop grit. Amy Campbell, the school counselor at the Rawson Saunders School for Dyslexia provides insights in the post below.

True Grit and the Value of It

Psychologist Angela Duckworth studied people in various challenging situations and her findings indicate that there was one characteristic that emerged as a significant predictor of success. The predictor wasn’t intelligence, social intelligence, physical health, or physical appearance. It was grit. Grit was also a strong indicator of GPA and graduation rates in her studies. What are some ways to foster grit?

  1. Develop a better understanding of grit. Although grit is a somewhat nebulous idea to qualify or quantify, there are some great resources out there to learn more about it. A couple of books that discuss the concept of grit are “How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character” by Paul Tough and “David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants” by Malcolm Gladwell.

  2. Talk about grit and examples of grit with children. Explain that it is being persistent and pushing through discomfort and difficulties. Be a living example of pushing through challenging times and have open discussions with children about how it is normal to experience challenges and it can be uncomfortable (but necessary) to be persistent.

  3. Help children develop a growth mindset versus teaching them that intelligence and talents are fixed. This is a big idea that is highlighted in Carol Dweck’s book “Mindset.” Teaching children that their abilities can be developed and refined through hard work helps foster the idea that success is more of a fluid than a pre-determined part of life.

  4. Allow children the opportunity to struggle and push through challenging and uncomfortable situations. It is difficult to watch children struggle; however, children need the opportunity to make mistakes and experience committing to something even if it’s challenging. I often tell parents that times of discomfort present the most significant learning opportunities for children.

For more in-depth resources about the development and study of grit, see:

Amy Campbell

B.S. Elementary Education and Special Education (Salem International University)

M.A. Counseling and School Counseling (West Virginia University)

Ph.D. Counseling and Clinical Supervision (University of Virginia)


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