Parenting can be so overwhelming. I find that often there are just too many plates to spin, too many balls to juggle, too much pressure to get it right. In my field as an educator I’m constantly reading about what teachers and parents should be doing to ensure kids come out of childhood ready to be successful, well rounded adults. I sift through a lot of it, discard what I don’t agree with, bookmark things that I think could be useful but more often than not, life gets in the way and my Pinterest ideal child gets neglected and ideas remain bookmarked but don’t come to life.
Sometimes though, I read something that resonates so much with me and with our situation that I can’t disregard it or bookmark it – I take immediate action. Have you watched Angela Lee Duckworth’s Ted Talk on grit? If you haven’t, watch it here. Duckworth talks about how, perseverance, determination, diligence, all synonyms of grit really, can contribute to doing better in life, succeeding and feeling a sense of accomplishment. There is evidence to show that people who persist longer to achieve things, despite set backs and failures, develop better intrinsic motivation to continue to chase long term goals. This makes ‘grit’ which is that courage and resolve to see things to the end, as important, if not more so, than academic ability.
I was convinced and I have two of a kind: one boy who gives up easily at the first hurdle, and one who does not quit despite all the crying and dramatic tantrum throwing he can throw around. Both could do with help in developing their attitude towards perseverance so I began researching how you can ‘teach’ grit and have developed 5 strategies.
1. Grit Role Model
My husband and I decided to become grit role models. We started doing things we didn’t normally do and commenting on how hard they were and how we wanted to reach specific goals. This wasn’t hard for us as we’ve recently purchased a farm and I have lots of farming skills to develop and my husband has begun learning a language. I know sometimes it seems that children don’t listen, but they are always watching, and they see everything. Leading by example is the main way children learn how to talk, walk and do everything, and this is no different for character education.
2. Grit Calendar
We developed a grit calendar and we told our children that for a whole month they were going to dedicate 20 minutes every day to developing a skill. This could be practising a musical instrument, practising an academic skill, the sky is the limit. Our boys are using the grit calendar to cross out each day that they commit to doing their skill and as they are still young we mark how easy or not it was to do with a smiley face.
3. Research Journeys
Find people who are inspirational  to your children and are champions in their own field. Learn about their life and pin point the failures and obstacles that they have overcome to get to where they are now. More often than not, champions have had to overcome difficulties and show commitment to their chosen field by dedicating themselves to it wholeheartedly. For us we chose Mahatma Gandhi who overcame racism, government oppression and jail to fight for freedom. We also researched how Thomas Edison failed over 1000 times before successfully creating light!