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Does your child "pick and choose" or do they never give up?

I had a chance to attend a personal development seminar in Ann Arbor this last weekend. During one of our breakout sessions I got into a very nice conversation with a young mother of a 4 and a 6 year old. After finding out I worked with plenty of children her kid’s ages, the topic naturally gravitated to raising children today and parenting.

Being a high achiever herself, she revealed her dilemma over her older daughter’s tendency to get frustrated and give up to easily. She was already ahead of the game by knowing “Grit” is what her daughter lacked. Grit is the combination of Persistenceand Perseverance. Persistence is the ability to keep going no matter how hard something is or how long it takes. It is the habit of “never giving up”. Perseverance on the other hand is the ability push through failure no matter how many times you fail. It is “always getting back up” after being knocked down.

I tried to make her feel a little bit better by letting her know she was not alone. Many young children today are lacking grit. While we tossed around the many reasons why, we knew it really did not matter why. She then asked the real question: “So how do I develop grit in my daughter?”

First I said the good news is at 4 and 6 they were both still very moldable. From age 0 to 8 is when a person develops most of who they are. She still had plenty of time to develop grit in both of them. Then I shared with her the key to developing persistence and perseverance. I said she could talk to her daughters until she was blue in the face. She could model the desired behavior. She could show them examples. She could even show then what will happens if they don’t develop grit. But the only way they will really develop grit is to “make them do things they do not want to do”.

But they have to do this often. They have to feel the emotion of hardship and failure regularly. I said the key was to make them do plenty of small things every day that they do not want to do. The smaller the better especially at the beginning. I said just learn to be more aware and perceptive. To become a hardship detective.

Your child probably encounters dozens of things they really do not want to do every day. Just see each as a precious learning opportunity. Once you realize how valuable and fleeting they are you will start to catch every single one.

I left her with this example. Straight “A” students and top employees are not good at or love every class they are in or every task/project they are working on. They have just developed the ability and the habit of working even harder on the things they are not good at or do not like.

On the other hand those without grit have the learned the habit of “picking and choosing”.

Yours for stronger kids,


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