In a previous post, I touched upon the negative impact that schools overly focused on grades can have on our kids. Students who just work as hard as it takes to get an A sometimes leave high school without any real experiences with overcoming obstacles, extending themselves, and really working hard. This was not meant as a criticism of individual schools or teachers, but really a commentary on the way most schools assess students.
However, the strengthening of grit, resilience, or whatever synonym you choose to describe this quality in which our kids overcome struggles to gain the experience and confidence that will help them deal with future struggles, needs reinforcement on the homefront as well. As parents, how can we do a better job helping our kids build their capacity to deal with the obstacles that are sure to come their way?
My number one recommendation would be for parents to help their children improve their self-reflection skills. Take some time before you react to a situation where your child is struggling or failing at something, especially if there is a lot of emotion involved. From personal experience, I know this can be hard…
One of the areas I often see parents potentially hurting the grit of their students is in at youth sporting events. Whether it is blaming the referee or questioning the coach, the underlying message is that it was someone else’s fault that the team did not win. This behavior leads to a lack of self-reflection and in turn a focus on areas that could be improved upon. This is true whether it is a failure in sports, school, the workplace, a relationship, etc.
Ultimately, we need to help our children see the bigger picture with situations that don’t go as well as they hoped. After they have some time to process the disappointment, we need to encourage them to reflect honestly on their own performance and if there is anything that they could have done differently. We need to help them avoid a default reaction that blames people or things that they do not have control over. Our inclination to cushion the blow when our kids come up short may be appropriate in some instances, but if it is our default reaction then we are doing our kids a huge disservice.