According to Angela Duckworth, a social psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania and author of the bestselling new book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, children have a better chance of developing “grit” (also known as the will to relentlessly pursue a passion through hard work and perseverance) if they experience the support and structure of “wise parenting.”
Duckworth coined the term wise parenting to better represent the combination of authoritative and supportive parenting. According to many studies on parenting styles, wise parenting has been proven to be the most beneficial in developing grit in children, as opposed to other styles of parenting, such as permissive or neglectful parenting.
What’s more, Duckworth also highlights how parents can help develop grit in their children. She encourages parents to enroll their children in extracurricular activities that are guided by a “wise adult,” where children will enjoy the activity and simultaneously benefit from a formal and structured environment, where they are challenged to work hard and develop a skill. According to Duckworth, children should ideally stick to an activity for at least one year (or two if in high school) to benefit truly from the chosen activity. In doing so, children have the chance to master new skills and conquer challenges brought forth by the activity.
In observing my friends and colleagues, I believe most parents are on the right track. They expose their children to wonderful and varied extracurricular activities, respect their child’s interests, and at the same time, allow their child to enjoy free, unstructured time. Like anything else, it is a question of balance and vigilance on the part of the parent. The long-term outcome will undoubtedly be positive if parents offer their child unconditional support and encouragement while setting clear and firm expectations.
And For Our Daughters…
Although Duckworth discusses building grit in children as a whole, I also see the development of grit early in life as critical for our daughters. If we want our daughters to become future leaders who will go after their dreams and follow their passions, why not equip them with the values and discipline it takes to become gritty and to stick to something? After all, if passion, perseverance, and effort are not fostered and developed (all key ingredients to developing grit), then how will our daughters be able to achieve their stretch goals? It is imperative as parents to be aware of this and to promote it as early on as possible—the healthy development of GRIT!
- Practice “wise parenting.” Have high expectations and structure, but make sure to do so in a supporting and loving environment.
- Enroll your daughter in one extracurricular activity to help her develop skills and mastery.
- Remain vigilant. Be supportive and encouraging when your daughter struggles to master new skills. In other words, work through the challenges together.
If you are a parent, do you agree with this philosophy? What about in your personal life? Do you tend to stick with something even though it is challenging? If so, how do you overcome your hurdles? Who do you turn to for help? How would you as a parent, do the same for you child?
I would love to get your thoughts on any of these questions! Please feel free to leave a comment in the reply box below!
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