Bestselling author and psychologist Angela Duckworth is the world's leading expert on grit—the coveted quality that's a better indicator of success than talent or even IQ as we continue to grapple with the challenges of living in a pandemic. We can all benefit from practising being "gritty"; by looking for opportunities to learn and grow, to help us cope, practice gratitude, cultivate a growth mindset and acknowledge that we can do hard things!

What Is Grit and Why Does it Matter?

Grit is a distinct combination of passion, resilience, determination, and focus that allows a person to maintain the discipline and optimism to persevere in their goals even in the face of discomfort, setbacks, and a lack of visible progress.

Grit means maintaining the hope and vision to change even under the most challenging circumstances.

How can we foster GRIT?

As parents, carers and educators, it is up to us to instil the confidence and optimism in our young people that will allow them to push through the low moments of COVID 19.

Kids are not able to just spontaneously grow up to be "gritty" people without being supported in that.

Here are few ideas gleaned from the "grit" experts about being intentional in our quest to build grit.

#1 Find A Passion (Or At Least An Engaging Activity)

One of the characteristics of "gritty" people is that they are "especially motivated to seek happiness through focused engagement and a sense of meaning or purpose", says Duckworth, so letting a child find their passion is necessary.

"I don't think people can become truly gritty and great at things they don't love, so when we try to develop grit in kids, we also need to find and help them cultivate their passions."

Pursuing a particular interest of their choosing can help young people identify a passion and understand that practise, hard work and perseverance are the surest way to achieve.

#2 Recognize That Frustration, Confusion and Practice Are Par for the Course

In a 2013 TED Talk, Duckworth said it is the "best idea" she has heard about how to increase grit in children is to teach what Stanford professor and author of the highly acclaimed book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success , Carol Dweck, calls a "growth mindset."

Dweck has found that people with "growth mindsets" are more resilient and tend to push through struggle because they believe that hard work is part of the process, and they understand that failure is not a permanent condition. Those with "fixed mindsets", on the other hand, believe that success stems from innate talent and tend to give up easily—why work hard at something if you don't think you can change anything?

#3 Take Risks

Grit demands risk-taking. Successful people are willing to step out of their comfort zones and risk failure to learn something new or pursue a long-term goal. And while, by definition, a risk may fail, successful adults don't give up.

Paul Tough, author of How Children Succeed , says,

"Lots of parents don't want to talk about their failures in front of their kids, but that's denying kids the potentially powerful experience of seeing their parents bounce back."

#4 Teach that failure is not the end

To teach children to be resilient, we need to show them real examples of how failures and setbacks can lead to success—by talking about them regularly, sharing our own experiences, and most importantly, allowing them to fail.

In his New York Times article "The Secret to Success is Failure," Paul Tough says,

"It is a central paradox of contemporary parenting, in fact: we have an acute, almost biological impulse to provide for our children, to give them everything they want and need, to protect them from dangers and discomforts both large and small. And yet we all know — on some level, at least — that what kids need more than anything is a little hardship: some challenge, some deprivation that they can overcome, even if just to prove to themselves that they can."

Duckworth suggests that taking the lead from "gritty" people can help us reframe our adversity and lead to what she refers to as an "optimistic, resilient way." We can achieve this by focusing on the things we can change, the items in our life we do have control over, and that it's in our best interest to spend most of our time on those things as we continue to weather this storm. Because of, and despite this, young people need to be seen & valued for their efforts. To continue to show up and do their best on any given day.

As parents, we mustn't let our protective instincts rob our children of first-hand experiences of learning to navigate challenges for themselves. We all want to see them succeed, but as they search to find their footing in their pathways to success, it is essential to show them that setbacks and failure are part of that process, not an endpoint, but a necessary crossing on the road to achievement. If we don't let them see us fail or experience a failure themselves, in the safety of our presence, they may not have the stamina to overcome life's challenges when they are on their own and know that it's okay to ask for help and where to find it.

We have all experienced the hardship of the pandemic collectively, which has made it possible to acknowledge that we are all doing things hard everyday single day. This was true before COVID and will be true after Life is hard, but we can do hard things by being "gritty"!

Director of Counselling

Acknowledgements, further reading & resources:

Links to (non- Woodleigh) Webinars for Parents:

Paul Dillon

'Young people, alcohol and other drugs 2021: What do parents need to know?'

It will examine current drug trends amongst school-based young people, including vaping and the online sale of drugs via social media apps. The session aims to empower parents with a positive message and assist them in having open and honest family discussions in this complex area.

Thursday, 16 September at 7.00-8.30pm (AEST).

Further details and registration can be found at the following link:

Dr Arne Rubinstein

Fathers Day workshop: A fun interactive evening that will guide you through activities and conversations for Father & Child (of any age!). The perfect way to honour the special relationship you share. Thursday 9 September: 7 - 8 pm EST $25 to attend. Please register through the link below.

Maggie Dent & Michelle Mitchell

Understanding Our Gorgeous, Confused Girls - an online masterclass about tween & teen girls

With Maggie Dent & Michelle Mitchell

Thursday 9 September, 8 pm EST

$35 to sign up to live event with access to repay & additional resources through the link below.