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What is grit? And what does it mean to bring up a child with grit, who stays optimistic even when things are not sailing all that smoothly?
The term ‘Grit’ has been newly defined by Angela Lee Duckworth, an American academic, psychologist and popular science author as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” She conducted a study on what makes people succeed or fail. Her conclusion was that the strongest cause determining one’s success is grit. She says that grit is the strongest influence that makes a person successful, rather than the traditionally perceived ones like family income and background, being born clever, hard work, or scoring high in examinations.
Watch her on TED talks here:
As the talk says, Grit is the one major attribute that makes it possible for us to achieve our goals. Moreover, Grit impacts not only academic or professional goal achievement but is also important for personal fulfilment. You need to be gritty to achieve any difficult task: from running a marathon to perfecting the cheese cake recipe! Some social scientists think that grit is the biggest predictor of a happy and productive life.
Grit is not exactly a new concept. We all know the importance of practice, discipline and hard work. Albert Einstein had said, “ Genius is 1% talent and 99% hard work”. All this talk of grit and I started to think about parenting styles (again). I realise that I want to bring up my child not in a cushioned up environment but in a setup where my child may sometimes get disheartened but never at the expense of optimism.
So, one day I saw my 5 year old’s school work and he had written 29 horrible cursive j(s) and 1 respectable one. I was horrified for we had practised the letter at home. My son informed me that no matter how hard he tried, he could not write the cursive j and so there was no point in trying. Somehow I reminded myself about remaining positive and complemented him on that one respectable letter. The boy was thrilled and thanked me for noticing and then we went on to practice the letter and trying to perfect it. It took us about 10 to 15 peaceful minutes to get the hang of it. (I have strong feelings on teaching children cursive in today’s era, but that topic is for another day).
I realised that 15 minutes before, my son sat deflated, slouching with a grim expression knowing that his mother would be disillusioned with the work in the notebook and somehow I managed to turn that moment around. (This is not a normal occurrence and I stood enlightened or at least somewhat enlightened). So, now the enlightened me has decided to applaud him more for trying, and for effort in all activities and not just for achieving the goal and maybe that will bring up the grit quotient!
First published here.
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