Persistence & Grit: How To Infuse These Top Two Qualities In Your Child?
Created by Swapna Nair Updated on Jul 29, 2020
‘He is so talented. Such perfection in his singing!’
‘She is a born genius in math!’
Such comments are heard everywhere and we believe that talent is paramount. Yet how many of us know that talent is overrated? If you keenly observe the lives of celebrities (in any field) you will see that it is not just talent. Talent combined with deep practice is the key to their success. Deep practice involves skill building. This, in turn, involves effort.
Persistence, grit combined with self -regulation are the top three qualities required for being a Learner.
Each child is born with several talents. It is up to the parents and teachers to unearth them.
Persistence and grit come with practice alone. Both values can be instilled as early as possible right from infancy. It is important that we cultivate a similar environment at home.
If we practise them in our daily lives our children will learn the same from us. So how do you go about this? Read on...
How To Raise A Child With Grit & Persistence
Plan your parenting along with your spouse. Note down how you both wish to bring up your child. Aim to have a discussion in an unbiased manner. Jointly think of the rules and consequences that would be age /situation appropriate. It is important that both of you are on the same ground. This would help you to cope with tantrums and difficult situations.
Persistence and grit are learned through the day, through various activities.
Your child wishes to have an ice cream instead of food. He refuses to eat. He will begin to cry. At this point, the mother gives in. What is the message you are sending across? ‘If I cry I will get what I want’. Instead move away when he cries. Come back a little later. Explain in a calm tone that he would have his ice cream on days he does not throw a tantrum. If he is going to cry for it he would not get. Instead, he would be given when…… if……. Wait for him to assimilate. He will learn that you are persistent about the consequence and he will calm down. You are also teaching him to be gritty and regulate his desire.
Use Games & Activities To Teach Values
To teach the values I pointed out above, bring games and activities into play. Encourage participation than winning. Help your child to accept feedback in a constructive manner. Children are going to face criticism, negativity, and bullying in various forms once they begin to interact with the world. Guide them on how to respond than react. This would instill sportsmanship spirit.
Appreciate their efforts than the talent. If you comment on their talent you are negating their efforts. It could have a reverse effect.
When you commend their efforts they will begin to believe in themselves. They would be determined to practise harder.
Be Like A Coach
If you wish to have them improve in a game or fine art, be like a coach. Appreciate their effort- not too much nor too little. Have a critical eye. Yet do not demolish their enthusiasm. Guide them on how to improve. It is easy for us to instruct them to perform better. How many of us deconstruct the steps.
Set small achievable goals. Make the goals specific and time-bound. Follow them through along with your child. Do not hover. But be there. When your child stumbles give them a hand, not your nagging or criticism.
Allow Sufficient Time
Expose your child to various activities. Set a time limit of one year. Children may crib or whine. It is all right. It is not possible to know one’s interest or passion in a shorter time. After a year your child still does not like the activity/class then you could remove him/her. I had a little girl aged three who came to learn art at my center. Initially, she refused to touch the crayon. She wanted her mother to sit beside her. I allowed the mother to sit inside the class on the first day. From the next class, I began talking to the child, instructed the mother to move away. I realised the child liked watercolors more than crayons. I brought out the watercolors. I was amazed to see the child splash the colors on to the paper and weaving a story around it. I had her enrolled in a storytelling workshop which she thoroughly enjoyed.
Hence while doing one activity it may lead to another. We do not know what we are good or bad at unless we try out a few activities. It does not mean you cram their daily schedule. Focus on two activities for a year. One could be related to sports and one to a fine art.
Practise Delayed Gratification In Your Life
When you go shopping, do not buy that magazine or lipstick. Let your child see you mull over your decision. Talk aloud to your child that you would think over and buy later. This is a powerful lesson for your little one. Make sure to appreciate your child if he/she delays gratification. One child told her parents that she wished to distribute sweets in an orphanage than have a party. The father appreciated her thought and said he would help her do it. The mother added that she could still organise a party. Now here the mother wished to pamper her child which is not surprising. But was she also not weakening the child’s resolve of not having a party? Hence we need to take stock of our own values and actions constantly as parents.
Allow your child to make choices. It may be as small as choosing what to wear. Children who are empowered and encouraged to make decisions grow up to be gritty.
Teach them on optimistic self- talk. If you are the type of person who is very hard upon oneself, your child learns the same. Instead, teach them how to come out of failure using positive self- talk- ‘it is ok, I will just do this again.’ A mother was baking a cake. The cake did not turn out well. Imagine this: oh no I am so useless that I can’t even bake a cake’ versus ‘ah ha this cake has flopped; its ok let us use it with ice cream.’ Which would be a better lesson for a young one?
Approach life with a growth mindset. Persistence and grit will follow!
I would love to hear from you on what do YOU think are the best ways to infuse these qualities in a child? How do you practise it? Do drop a line in the comments section below.
| Oct 25, 2018
it was a beautiful and helpful writeup indeed, I am facing a strange problem with my little one and I really don't know how to overcome that, till the time we are playing sing dancing she is all mine but the moment I take out her copies and like to revise or get her work completed she vanishes and you cannot get her hold, the excuses that she makes are beyond my understanding and patience, lest I get gross and give up...
| Oct 25, 2018
Thanks for sharing this information. These days I am facing this problem with my son's, they want to play all the time,whenever I asked them to do their homework,they keep on playing,just ignoring what I am saying. They are good in studies but still not concentrate on their studies.
| Oct 26, 2018
Barinder how old are they? Set a routine. Allot time slots for all activities including play and entertainment. In the study time slot assign time boxes. Each box can be 25 min study+5 min break. Have two or more boxes depending on their work. Make a chart with columns. Allot stars when each task is completed. When they collect 7 stars give them an hour extra of play in the weekend. Set consequences but follow them consistently. Gradually with encouragement the routine will set into good habits.
| Oct 26, 2018
Abha, it is normal for kids to try and avoid studying. Because it is tedious. So think of ways to integrate learning into play and activities. Allot Time boxes of 20 or 25 min study +5 min break. Make it incentive based. I have written about his in the above comment. Make learning interactive.
| Oct 26, 2018
Hello Swapna Nair ji. My elder one is 10 yrs old and younger one is 8 yrs old. I had already allotted time slots for each activity. Like 3Pm to 4 Pm watching TV,then study time with 10 min break after every half an hour,etc. Actually my elder son harneer ,he is not at all concentrate on his studies. These days he lives in his own fantasy world. All the time he just want to talk about cars ,their models everything abt car. while studying suddenly he starts singing. Now tell what can I do ? If I left them alone for sometime they start fighting with each other.
| Oct 26, 2018
Barinder it is very normal for boys to be lost in their world of gadgets or cars. In fact it is healthy to day dream. It makes them more creative. I have written a blog on this. You just have to gently guided them back to studies. In fact use this as an incentive. Maybe you could promise to take him to a car showroom in the weekend if he studies. Siblings fighting is also common. Do not take sides. Observe. When they are beginning to hurt each other pull them apart and send them to different rooms or two corners of a room. Set consequences for their behaviour. Spend exclusive time with each and build your communication. To improve concentration ask your son to pick out a non dominant instrument from an instrumental piece. Ask him to circle letter e from a passage. Playing chess or scrabble increases concentration too. Similarly martial art.