What is Grit?
Building character in our children is an important part of parenting. The character traits instilled our in children when they are young will define who they become as adults.
This week’s character trait is grit. A few days ago, my husband was watching True Grit (the new version with Jeff Bridges, not the old with John Wayne) and every time I see this movie I think about how is grit defined and how does one develop grit. If you have seen the movie, you will recall that each of the 3 main characters exhibit grit in their own ways.
I recently heard that Common Core teachers in California were going to include evaluations of grit as part of the stardard report card (see report here on the American Thinker, see also here and here). While schools may think they can grade and define student “grit”, the character trait of “grit” is much deeper than a measurement from a standardized test.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, grit is defined as: courage and resolve, strength of character. Synonyms with grit include bravery, strength of will, fortitude, toughness, determination, tenacity and endurance.
All the words from the definition above (courage, bravery, fortitude, determination, etc…) are much deeper than standardized measurements and teacher observations. These are strong character traits that must be taught by parents every day. These traits don’t develop by accident.
Three Ways to Develop the Character Trait of Grit in your Children
Study the character traits of historical figures with grit
When I think of leaders and historical figures with grit, I think of George Washington during the Revolutionary War. The winter at Valley Forge was almost unbearable. The Americans were near defeat (the Americans were near defeat many times during the Revolutionary War), could it have been grit that won the war?
What about Abraham Lincoln and his resolve to save the Union? While not on the battlefield Lincoln showed us courage, bravery, fortitude, and strength of character in his actions during the civil war.
Studying the character and decisions of leaders with grit gives us an example to follow.
Use Everyday Life Examples to Teach Grit
In each of our everyday lives, we are faced with challenges and questions that sometimes require hard decisions. As your children get older, they will have to make many of these decisions on their own.
Teach your children to have courage to do the right thing every day when it’s easy, so when the decisions to do right are harder they will already have the habit and instinct of making good decisions. Young people and teenagers have many tough decisions every day and yes, it does require courage and resolve not to do the same thing your friends are doing if your friends are doing the wrong thing.
If your child cheats in school or tells you about another child who cheats in school, use this as an example to teach them about how cheating was the easy choice and how it takes courage and resolve to not cheat.
Be an Example of Grit for Your Children
The example of parents has a huge impact on children and their future decisions. Children will notice and they will watch when their parents have hard choices. Children will remember if their parents chose to do the right thing or followed the crowd.
In the near future, people of faith will be challenged for their beliefs and we must stand firm with kindness. We must show our children that we can take a stand for what is right. Taking a stand for what is right requires grit, courage and resolve.
How do you teach your children grit? What historical or personal examples have helped you in teaching your children this trait?