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Resilience in Children

9 Activities to Build Grit and Resilience in Children

Written by: Ruth-Ann Parker

June 22, 2022

To become successful in life, children must be resilient and have a grit mindset. According to Ceder on verywellfamily.com, in psychology, grit is based on an individual’s passion, motivation, and determination to achieve a certain goal. The American Psychological Association states that grit is the difference between those who are the best and those who are simply good enough.

Parents have a significant role to play to make sure that their children accomplish these goals. This can be accomplished through encouragement and praise and pushing them to strive for greatness. With the right influences and a clear mindset, grit and resilience in children are possible. Angela Duckworth, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, TED speaker, and best-selling author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, says that grit is particularly important so that children can reach their full potential rather than intelligence, skills, or even grades.2

Nonetheless, resilience for students is important as well. Here are nine activities that will encourage grit and resilience in children.

 

Help your child find passion and purpose

Children are most times confused and lack guidance about their purpose in life. When children grow older, they can choose their own interests, independently. This helps motivate them to work harder and always keep trying. These are two characteristics needed for success and helping them to realize their goals. Most times when a parent chooses for a child, the child will show little interest and feel less connected. Because of this, they will not put out the same effort and work as hard. Parents and teachers are both responsible to help guide children after they have realized their purpose. They should help them work towards shaping their future so that their true potential shows. “One of the characteristics of ‘gritty’ people is that they are motivated to seek happiness through constant communication with others. Children strive for meaning and purpose. Letting them find their own passion is necessary for the long term,” Ceder states.1 In so doing, grit and resiliency will happen. Allowing them to find their passion is a way to build resilience in children.

 

Take your child out of their comfort zone

Parents should encourage their children to start difficult or challenging activities. This will get them out of their comfort zone and is another way to build resilience in children. Children will realize that they can achieve anything they put their mind to. Psychologists believe that you should give your child one activity that requires a little more effort and time in getting results and which takes discipline to practice. The effort and learning experience that comes with it is a more valuable lesson than the actual activity itself. Additionally, this experience also builds resilience for students. Allowing children to get out of their comfort zone, helps build grit and resilience as they will work harder to achieve their goals.

 

Let your child struggle a bit

What does this mean? Simply put, allow your child to fight with a challenge without jumping in to try and save them. Yes, this may be a tough one indeed. Taking risks and struggling are important ways for children to learn certain life skills and to show gritty behavior. Struggling with a challenging task is a way to build resilience in children as well. If your child is dealing with a skill, sport, or activity that may be difficult to learn, do not allow them to give up at the first sign of discomfort. Parents should avoid the urge to get involved and help them. Do not feel guilty if your child feels sad or frustrated. Do not feel like you have failed them. Instead, encourage them to push beyond their limits and work through the struggles. This is a part of arduous work, which will lead to their success. Challenging tasks is also valuable for building resilience for students.

 

Model a Growth Mindset

What is a growth mindset? Psychologist Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success says that people with growth mindsets tend to push through the struggles because they believe that hard work is a part of the process and they do not believe that failure is a permanent condition. A growth mindset is like determination, effort, challenging work and good teaching. Developing a growth mindset is essential for building resilience in children. The lack of these shows a fixed mindset where individuals believe that it is within their nature to be good or bad at something. Parents should ensure that they model a growth mindset so that their children are able to see the language and behaviour that shapes such positive mindset. A growth mindset will also help in school in building resilience for students.

 

Teach them that it is okay to fail

It is important that children realize that not everything they pursue in life will have a positive outcome. Failure is necessary and knowing what failure is, it will allow them to brush themselves off, bounce back and rise from their setbacks. Learning to recover from failure builds resilience in children. Parents should talk to their children about their own failures and setbacks, how they pushed through and the ways they stayed resilient to become successful. Children live what they learn so if you want your children to deal with failures gracefully and calmly and become a model for determination, then you as a parent should model this yourself. Teach them that being flexible and knowing how to solve problems and think on their feet is an important and mature quality to have. Understanding that failure is okay also builds resilience for students.

 

Be Gritty and Resilient yourself

Children usually think of their parents very highly. They learn and develop through the actions and behaviors of their parents at home. The experience they gain and their reaction to it help them shape their thinking and their mindset. When parents take on tasks that may be hard, it is good for children to see the outcome whether it is positive or negative. Children need to understand that failure will take place. Parents should demonstrate to them that bouncing back from failures and crises will build grit and resilience. This will have a positive impact on children as they will see that failing is nothing to be afraid of. This will also build resilience in children. Talking to your child about gritty and resilient behavior should be a continuous activity so that children will forever have that parental voice inside their heads to guide them. Parents should also give constructive criticism to encourage growth and maturity in children. This will help their children realize that grit and resilience is easy to achieve. Modeling gritty and resilient behavior also helps build resilience for students.

 

Share your passions and experiences and stories of famous people

Parents ought to show their children activities or hobbies that get them excited and those at which they are good. Doing so will help build resilience in children. Sharing your passions with them and allowing them to view you outside of being stern, strict, hard-working mother or father will help them realize that you too have dedicated time and energy to work on your passions. They will see you in action in a fun, gritty and resilient way. This may help them see that having grit and being resilient does not have to be a serious thing. Children should enjoy Bootcamp while working towards their goals and dreams.

It is also important to share stories of famous people who never gave up despite the challenges they faced. Ensure that children know them by name and know of their stories. This will help them in their times of weakness when they remember these famous people. This is a clever way to show that perseverance and resilience can lead to immense success.

 

Teach about grit and resilience through nature and literature

Sit with your child and explore poems and books that teach about grit and resilience. Using literature or examples in nature are great activities to build resilience in children. Read stories like “The Boy Who Never Gave Up” by Stephen Curry and ask them questions to get them thinking about ways they can be gritty and resilient. Introduce poems that talk about nature like Tupac Shakur’s “The Rose That Grew from Concrete.” This will help them to realize that something good can come from any rough conditions or hardships they may face in life. All they must do is be resilient and never give up. Additionally, these sorts of activities are helpful in developing resilience for students too.

 

Teach and Encourage Self-Care

It is important for parents to remember to teach and encourage self-care. Children will remain healthy both physically and mentally by taking diligent care of their bodies and feeding their mind with positive and kind thoughts. Attention to self-care will help build resilience in children. Without a healthy body and mind, children will not be able to show grit or be resilient. They may fail miserably at their passions. A good night’s sleep, a healthy diet and exercise are some ways to embrace self-care. Also, it is important to take note of your child’s emotions. Make sure that they feel free to express themselves and how they are feeling without judgement or fear of other individuals calling them soft or sensitive. Encouraging self-care also helps to build resilience for students.

Grit and resilience do not happen in one go. It occurs overtime with challenges, lessons learnt, failures and accomplishments. Taking on bigger challenges than the previous one, enjoying the effort, making mistakes and the drive to keep learning are also key aspects in building resilience in chidren. No one activity will cause a child to be gritty and resilient. A series of steps, lessons, practice, and coaching from parents who themselves must show such behaviour for their child to see and have a good example to follow, is what will achieve success, grit, and resilience.

Ruth-Ann Parker has been teaching since 2011 after receiving her bachelor’s degree at the UWI Mona in Kingston, Jamaica. and most recently a Diploma at Seneca College in Toronto, Canada. She aspires to create a safe, student-centered environment, with a focus on active learning, where students are always engaged and feel comfortable to express their thoughts, ideas, and opinions. She also strives to create classrooms with spaces for exploration and discovery, challenging students by maintaining a growth mindset.

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Chris is from Devon, in the south of England. He has been teaching English as a foreign language for over six years and has taught in China, the UK, Hungary and Spain. He has a background in Music and studied Composition at the RSAMD in Glasgow, Trinity Laban in London and at the University of York. After finishing his master’s at York, he travelled to China to teach and fell in love with it. He has been teaching ever since.

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