Why our kids should develop grit

If you were asked whether it was important for your child to do well academically, you’d no doubt say yes. You’d be crazy not to, right? And as this Time article by Belinda Luscombe points out, children who get good grades tend to succeed at university and at life in general. Therefore, you should want your child to be as smart as possible.

But wait. Luscombe also proposes that academic ability might not be all it’s cracked up to be, claiming we should focus on teaching our kids grit as opposed to placing so much emphasis on cognitive skills. She says that Paul Tough’s new book, How Children Succeed, suggests “grit is the cornerstone of educational reform.”

“While IQ is stubborn to change after age 8, the ability to persist, focus and adapt is more malleable, even into early adulthood,” writes Luscombe. While IQ may be what gets kids into college, they need a whole other set of skills to graduate – perseverance, character, time-management skills and the ability to work well with others.

In other words, let’s not worry so much about good grades and instead concentrate on life skills. Learning how to fail is a life skill. Failing, and then learning from that failure, would be an example of grit.

Let’s now step away from the academics, the literacy and numeracy side of things, and consider physical literacy under the same light. We all want our kids to be physically active and as physically literate as possible. We should also help them to develop the necessary grit to maintain physically active lifestyles, regardless of whether that’s through sport or recreation. Children develop physical literacy when they have the opportunity to explore the world around them while trying new things. This is going to lead to, at times, failure. Bumps and bruises and scrapes. Tears.

If we shelter them, if we don’t instill in them the importance of bouncing back, they could very well end up living a more sedentary lifestyle. So instead of trying to keep our kids from toppling over on their bikes or from falling on the playground, let’s help them up, dust them off, and encourage them to try again.

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