She said parents and teachers daily ask her, "How do I build grit in kids?" or "What do I do to teach kids a solid work ethic?" and "How do I keep them motivated for the long run?"
Her reply, "The honest answer is, I don't know."
But I know! I know how to build grit in kids. I know how to teach them a solid work ethic. I know how to keep them motivated for the long run. And it's not rocket science.
Ms. Duckworth said the best idea she's heard on how to teach grit is a growth mindset. That's not a bad thing, but it, alone, will not build grit.
This is it. There is one thing that builds grit over all other things and that is: Critical thinking.
Critical thinking shatters the herd mentality that tells us we have to wait for someone else before acting.
Critical thinking shatters the notion that anyone else has the power to approve or disapprove of anything we say/do/think/feel/write/love/hate......etc.
Critical thinking shatters the teaching that it takes a village to raise a child.
Critical thinking is independent by definition. If we ascribe to a herd mentality, we will stifle our own ability to operate outside the herd. Critical thinkers don't follow the herd. They aren't being rebellious, they are simply following their own line of thinking and it's different than everyone else's.
Critical thinkers do the one thing herd followers don't do: They think.
Instead of simply following the herd, they stop, look things over, ask pertinent questions and often find that following the herd won't work for them, so they veer off the beaten path to a lesser-followed path, or even more often, they create their own path.
They think for themselves.
They think before taking action.
They think instead of react.
They think in critical terms, not with assumptions.
They think in factual terms.
Critical thinking is the key to grit. Critical thinking gives a person the motivation to keep on keeping on because they've made their decisions based on their own reasoning and not based on what someone else has told them. Critical thinkers are intentional in their actions, are not afraid to question others and not afraid to go against the herd.
Teaching your kids to be critical thinkers will give them grit.
Read my Christian Standard article on critical thinking here.
What exactly is critical thinking? In dictionaries I consulted, it is defined as "The objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment."
That's a good definition, but it might be surprisingly difficult to practice in today's world. Not too many things are presented as objective any more. The news outlets report news with a judgment.....and Donald J. Trump's election to the US presidency was an excellent example. Every liberal media outlet reported the election with bias. They did not simply report the news, they reported with bias. They are not/were not critical thinkers. They could not report with objectivity.
It's really no different in the church. Pastors preach with bias by telling people how to apply God's Word instead of just giving God's Word and knowing the Holy Spirit can handle the application. They need to get out of the application business and get back to simply presenting God's Word as He has written it and let it go. Pastors who focus on application are people of little faith.
Objectivity creates critical thinking and critical thinking creates grit.
Do you want your kids to have grit? Teach them to be critical thinkers. Encourage them to question you. Encourage them to question everyone....their pastor, their teacher, their aunts, their uncles, their grandparents, their neighbors, their friends, etc. A bonus is that kids who question are less likely to be abused. Most abuse happens by people kids know....arm your kids with critical thinking and they will not be vulnerable to abuse. More on that here.
Grit creates advantage.
This is my last point. Grit creates advantage because it does not function without objective, critical thinking. Newsflash: Your kids are already seeing things though their own eyes and they are already questioning. This is why a 3-year-old will ask "Why?" 10,000 times a day.....they want to know how things work....why things are the way they are. We, as parents, often squelch their questioning because it makes us tired or we have other things on our mind or we are distracted or busy, etc. As hard as it might be at times, encouraging curiosity builds critical thinking and critical thinking creates grit.
Do you want your kids to have grit? If so, teach them critical thinking. Every single one of our eight kids has critical thinking skills and every single one of them has grit.