Can tweens develop true grit?
What is grit? It can be described in several ways: perseverance, follow-through, passion, chutzpah(nerve), and resilience. It means never giving up, no matter how hard it is to beat the odds in order to accomplish a goal. If your tweens can watch you persevere, it will make them think twice about giving up.
True Grit:Helping Your Teen Develop Perseverence by Laura S. Kastner, Ph.D. (www.parentmap.com) Dr. Kastner explains that it is difficult to measure teens because brain development, puberty and hormones “make them moody, impulsive and very vulnerable to sensation-seeking instead of sustaining effort on difficult tasks.” She suggests that parents discover child’s interests and passions and insist on perseverance. Those activities need to reflect that the child is developing grit.
In an article entitled Teaching Children Perseverance and the Value of Work (www.rootsofaction.com), Marilyn Price-Miller, Ph.D. gives some excellent examples of resilience. Dr. Price-Miller quotes an 11-year-old girl named America Rice: “If you want something, you have to earn it. Everything is not going to come to you just when you want it.” She goes on to inform us about a nonprofit group called Second Life Bikes that instill perseverance in young people by teaching them to refurbish bikes.
She recommends looking for the following program characteristics :
1. Goal and Results-Driven – with quick results.
2. Skill-Building – activities that provide challenge.
3. Adult Mentors
4. Teamwork – collaboration with adults and peers.
5. Fun and the possibility of new friends
6. Giving Back – focus on others.
Locally, once again we can look to Michael Josephson (www.charactercounts.com), based here in Los Angeles, for guidance. His commentary is called Just Keep on Knocking. As a young man, Josephson discovered that doors would never open unless he knocked on them, so he had to develop courage and confidence and overcome negative experiences to conquer his fears and achieve his goals.
Your tween will surprise you if you let him or her pursue their favorite things. As usual, guide them well in their endeavors, but let them have the freedom to do their own work. You can do it!