By Heather McMillan
Grit is the inner determination to never give up. To rise again after a fall. To fight to the end.
Even children can have grit. They need it to get through school and navigate peer pressure.
Sadly, some kids face “real life” too soon, and a greater need for grit surfaces. For me, it came in the form of childhood illness, for some of my friends, grit was needed just to survive family life. It could be the loss of a parent’s job, relocation, a divorce, addiction or even a natural disaster.
Whatever the hardship, will your child have the grit to overcome?
We all love to see grit in our heroes, and maybe we even point it out to your kids to inspire them, but to equip our children, we must more than admire it. We must WELCOME opportunities to USE it, so our kids can see it in action.
Grit requires character such as diligence and perseverance. It is our character that sets an example for our kids, inspiring them to rise above their own hardships.
Five skills parents can model to inspire grit:
- Model humility. In the face of unkindness or injustice, we might be shocked, annoyed or tempted to go on the warpath. This gives our kids the impression that they’re entitled to perfect treatment. No one is. A gracious response teaches our kids to let the small stuff roll off their backs…leaving them free of senseless conflict. Saving strength for important issues is required for having grit.
- Model courage. When a true hardship comes, it’s ok to expose our fear and even admit we don’t know what to do…then let our kids see us go forward in courage. If they hear us bring our trouble to God, even better. Peace comes as they learn to trust Him. Knowing how to disarm fear is required for having grit.
- Model creativity. Since life has twists and turns, embrace them. Problems? No problem! We can look for solutions that are different, and even better than what we expected. This creativity is an acquired skill that our kids will develop as they see us practice it… and required for having grit.
- Model hope. When an opportunity doesn’t turn out to be what we expected, hope again. And again. God has given us a higher place to attach our hope than just in ourselves and our own resources. Impossible is His specialty. Knowing how to over-through discouragement with hope is required for having grit.
- Model forgiveness. We need people in every important thing we accomplish! We can’t do it alone. Relational conflicts can be the source of deep pain and may cause us to give up. Our children need to be equipped with the skill to forgive, so their friendships stay intact…required for having grit.
People with grit succeed when others fail. They decide to stay committed to relationships. They earn the degree. They scale the summit. They find the obscure answer. These acts of valor are within reach of our children. Inspire them.