6 Ways to Develop “Gritty” Kids

By: Jan Lashbrook
As we’ve seen in the last few years, life can take unexpected twists and turns. You can help your child navigate tough times in life by helping him/her develop the character trait of grit. CCA’s Early Childhood Director Jan Lashbrook shares six simple ways you can do just that!

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” –James 1:12 (ESV)

Last week, I was talking with a Pre-K3 parent about the personality traits of the students who thrive in CCA’s Spanish Immersion program. One of those traits is GRIT.

Grit can be defined as 1) courage and resolve; strength of character, or 2) how well a student perseveres through setbacks to achieve important long-term goals. Kids who have grit and resilience are usually competent, confident, conscientious, courageous, and passionate about what they love (or don’t love).
Kids who have grit and resilience are usually competent, confident, conscientious, courageous, and passionate about what they love (or don’t love).
Grit and perseverance is not only needed for our Spanish Immersion classroom; it’s needed for life. As we’ve seen in the last few years, life can take unexpected twists and turns, and all good parents want their children to be equipped for whatever may come. Personally, I would love to put my three kids in a bubble and protect them from all the bad stuff, but that’s not realistic, nor will it help them navigate tough times in life.

A friend of mine who works for Collier County Public Schools shared a great resource on building resilience in our kids. Below are some of their ideas, as well as things that I have learned through the years with our students and my own kids.

  1. Reinforce important concepts through storytelling.

    Reading a book or watching a movie together about a child (or animal) who is able to overcome obstacles and persevere through difficult times can be a powerful way to reinforce grit and resilience.

  2. Allow your child to be frustrated sometimes.

    Parents hate to see their kids struggle, but learning from challenges (as well as failure) is the key to kids realizing that true achievement does not come easily.

  3. Let them wait for things they want or think they need.

    Earning toys is a great way to build resolve and perseverance, as it takes time to earn enough money to pay for what they want.

  4. Practice the “Hard Thing Rule”.

    Have your child do something hard that they don’t think they can do. Have them finish what they start, talk about setbacks, and celebrate success!

  5. Let your child try tasks on their own.

    Constantly intervening in children’s activities prevents them from learning for themselves. It can undermine their confidence and create a fear of failure. They may even end up relying on you or waiting for you to help with future struggles.

  6. Teach self-encouragement by offering it yourself.

    For example, if your child falls down when learning to ride a bike, praise his/her efforts at getting back up and trying again and again, rather than only praising when he learns to ride fast on his/her own.

Most importantly, we parents need to model grit and resilience ourselves. We know that our kids sometimes learn more from what is “caught” than what is taught. I’m reminded of the old adage, “What you do speaks so loudly that I can’t hear what you say.” It’s important that they see us fail at something and even express frustration at that failure. But when we keep on trying and trying in spite of the difficulty, we are modeling resiliency and risk-taking, which are indicators of success.
when we keep on trying and trying in spite of the difficulty, we are modeling resiliency and risk-taking
As believers, we know that ultimately, our grit and resilience comes from having a personal relationship with the Author of our future. It’s where we get our peace, joy, and trust in what is happening today as well as what is to come.

It is vital that our kids see our reliance and trust in God’s sovereignty, wisdom, and power, rather than in our own strength. As they do, they will see the peace that comes from that total trust in Him and be equipped to develop their own trust and reliance on Him as well, which is where their grit and resilience will thrive.
It is vital that our kids see our reliance and trust in God’s sovereignty, wisdom, and power, rather than in our own strength.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” –Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)

 
Jan Lashbrook is the Early Childhood Director at Calvary Christian Academy overseeing our Pre-K and Preschool programs. Jan holds a Masters in Early Childhood Education from Liberty University. She and her husband are “empty-nesters,” having raised three children who are all grown and married. Their youngest, Shawn, attended CCA for 12 years, graduating in 2012.

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