If you got to choose for your kid whether they were intelligent, talented, or resilient, what would you prioritize?
As parents of teenagers, we often find ourselves marveling at our children's talents and abilities. Whether it's their musical prowess, academic achievements, or athletic skills, we can't help but take pride in their innate gifts. However, important research by psychologist Angela Duckworth has shed light on a fascinating concept: grit, not talent, is a better predictor of long-term success.
Talent may be the starting point, but it's grit that keeps the engine running. Grit, as Duckworth defines it, is the combination of passion and perseverance toward long-term goals. While talent might open doors initially, the determination to overcome challenges, setbacks, and failures ultimately propels people to succeed.
Think of it this way: talent might get you in the door, but it's grit that carries you through the journey.
As parents, we play a crucial role in nurturing grit in our teenagers. Here's a simple yet effective way to build resilience and foster grit in our kids: Remind them of their backstory.
Every teenager has a unique story, and revisiting their journey can be a powerful reminder of the hurdles they've overcome and the strengths they possess. It's easy for teenagers to get caught up in the pressure of being talented or comparing themselves to others. But by reflecting on their personal growth and progress, they gain a deeper understanding of their capabilities.
For instance, let's take the story of my friend’s daughter, Emma. She always had a passion for art, but when she started high school, she faced stiff competition and self-doubt. There were moments when she questioned her talent and considered giving up. Her parents reminded her of her early days, scribbling drawings with crayons on their kitchen walls. They celebrated the progress she made and the dedication she showed in honing her skills.
This reflection of her backstory empowered Emma to face challenges head-on. She understood that talent alone wouldn't guarantee success, but her determination to persevere would. Embracing the journey and focusing on progress became her mantra, leading her to excel in art and other areas of her life, too.
So, to all the parents out there who want to build resilience in their teenagers, start by reminding them of where they come from and the obstacles they've overcome. Celebrate their progress, no matter how small, and encourage them to embrace challenges as opportunities for growth.
Remember, talent might catch the eye, but grit is what keeps them going. We can nurture resilience and equip our teenagers with the tenacity to thrive in the face of any adversity. Let's help them cultivate their grit, empowering them to create a future that is not merely defined by talent but fueled by their unyielding determination.
P.S. If you’re curious about your kid’s grit level, consider using this simple but effective assessment.
For years we’ve been studying what a young person needs in order to transition into a healthy, thriving adulthood.
They're uncommon sense ideas, really.
Download this checklist and use it with your students (or kids).