Grit and a Growth Mindset are more important in determining success than talent or IQ

Have you been hearing a lot about grit and perseverance but don’t know how to help your teen develop grit? Grit and growth mindset have been the key buzzwords from schools and educators in the last few years. But, for those of us not in the school system, we may be left with lots of questions.

teens and grit for success

Does my teen have grit?
How do I know if my teen has grit?
If my child doesn’t have grit, can it be developed?
If my child needs help developing grit, how can I help?

How are grit and growth mindset related?

Angela Lee Duckworth, a psychologist and academic at the University of Pennsylvania, coined the term grit to describe one’s ability to keep going, essentially quantifying their resolve and strength of character. In her TED Talk from 2003, she explains that what best fosters grit is the “growth mindset,” an idea developed by Carol Dweck, a professor of psychology at Stanford University. Dweck says that success is driven by understanding and believing that our ability to improve, the “growth mindset” is more important that whatever intelligence we think we were born with, the “fixed mindset.”

Passion as a driver for grit

While perseverance is the more popular subject around grit, Angela Lee Duckworth emphasized that goals should be attached to a passion. Inspiration is what keeps you going.

What I mean by passion is not just that you have something you care about. What I mean is that you care about that same ultimate goal in an abiding, loyal, and steady way. 

Angela Lee Duckworth “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance”

Teens need to own their goals – it’s their passion that will drive their accomplishments.  Parents, educators, and other coaches need to focus on guidance and advice…  So how can we do that without taking over?

4 easy tips to coach and encourage:

grit parent coach

The same way that you would not jump into the baseball field, or in my case the tennis court, to play for your child, the best role to play to teach your teen about grit and growth mindset is as a coach.

So how can you help?

  1. Talk to them about their goals and passions. They also need to be driven by their own passion, not the parent’s expectations of their future. I find that , same as us, my teens feel the most inspired to take action when what they’re doing has meaning to them.
  2. Praise effort to support a growth mindset, to reinforce that dedication and effort is what is going to get them to reach their goals. We spend a lot of time mimicking the words that foster this growth mindset, like “you haven’t mastered that, yet.”
  3. Encourage your teen to push beyond their limits. Playing it safe won’t do much for them. One example of this in our house is for our son to play higher level tennis tournaments, knowing that he’ll face much tougher opponents. But this drives him to put in more work to prepare to compete at that level.
  4. Model grit by setting an example. Yes, that means you also get to pick a goal or activity that you’re passionate about, practice something new, fail and keep trying. Then talk about it at home, so they understand this is just part of the normal process.

Let your kids struggle, it will lead to their success!

Since the 1980s parents have been leaning towards protecting their children from feeling discomfort, failure, disappointment.  But it’s time to realize that quite the opposite is true to prepare them for adulthood. We need kids to feel frustration, disappointment, and failure so they can handle adversity. This is how they learn that hard work is what gets them to the finish line.  We are holding our children back by not allowing them to develop the self-confidence that comes from overcoming obstacles.

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