Book Club: Dr. Reivich’s Pick05/02/2013
Positive Parenting by Dr. Karen Reivich
Think about how you and your kids pursue long-term goals. Do you do whatever it takes to reach the goal, even if it means weeks, months, or years of effort? Or do you stick with your goal but lose interest, quit when it gets tough, or stop when there are roadblocks in your path?
Psychologist Dr. Angela Duckworth (who happens to be my friend and neighbor) has studied why some persist in the pursuit of goals (for years and years), while others quit and find something else as soon as they get bored or hit obstacles. She calls this mental trait of perseverance and passion for long-term goals “grit.” Angela's research shows that individuals with grit are more likely to persist in reaching their goals and are more likely to succeed and outperform those with less grit. In fact, her research shows that grit is a better predictor of success than intelligence or self-control (see reference below to read the studies in detail).
Grit requires perseverance and optimism. It also requires setting goals that align with our passions. After all, it's going to be easier to keep a goal that intrigues and excites us—a goal that we have heart for—than to keep a goal that fails to ignite our zest and enthusiasm.
Reflect on the questions below to help you think about how much grit you have:
- What long-term goals have you set for yourself? What has been your progress in meeting those goals?
- When working toward a long-term goal, how do you respond when you encounter difficulties or challenges along the way?
- What are you most passionate about?
- How would you describe your self-control?
- How optimistic are you? How do you use your optimism to reach your goals?
The field of Positive Psychology doesn't yet have empirically validated techniques for teaching grit. I believe, however, that if we help our children develop optimism, self-control, and perseverance, and marry those attributes to their passions, we will increase the likelihood that our children develop grit.
In addition, we can teach our children that success and talent take a lot of time and effort by praising them for their efforts and the daily steps they take to reach their goal.
Karen Reivich, Ph.D.
Source: Duckworth, A. L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M. D., & Kelly, D. R. (2007). Grit: Perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 92(6), 1087-1101.
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