Building ‘grittier’ children

Fit Kids gritThere’s been plenty of talk about grit recently.

The first time I watched Angela Lee Duckworth’s TED Talk, I thought what a great word grit is.  It perfectly describes perseverance, tenacity and a determination to succeed.  It’s what successful people are made of, and it’s exactly what being a Fit Kid is all about.

Many children are sent the message by their parents that a happy life is one without any problems.  As Tony Robbins says ‘The problem with most people is that they think they shouldn’t have any problems’.  If a problem crops up, its often quickly smoothed over by a well meaning adult, so that children never need to experience any discomfort or unhappiness.  What happens to these children?  They grow up feeling frustrated and confused when things don’t go exactly as they would like, and more often than not give up when a problem crops up.  They’ve been taught that difficulty is something to be avoided, or it’s someone else’s problem.

What exercise can teach us, and what I know many children who’ve been taught by me over the years have learnt, is that learning and growth only happens when things are difficult.  Do you feel tired?  Good, that means your body is getting fitter.  Are your legs burning?  Good, that means your muscles are working.  Are you struggling to hold the position?  Good, your core is learning to stabilise.  And you know what?  Every second you’re a second stronger, and every class you can look back and notice how much better you were this week than last week.

In life, problems are what get us to the next level.  Solving problems and facing difficulties, and coming out stronger on the other side, is the only way to really deeply learn and grow and become a better person than we were yesterday.

Kids who are encouraged to exercise are able to experience grit in a very real and concrete way, because they can feel the difference in their bodies.  Learning to persevere through exercise means feeling how pushing through the hard parts makes their body stronger and more competent, and they can feel how much more confidence this gives them to try harder in all aspects of life.  It’s a life lesson that can be taken with them into the classroom, onto the sports field, or even into their music, dancing or chess lessons.

My Fit Kids are taught to be ‘gritty’ in every lesson, and I’d like to encourage you to keep this going at home by letting your children struggle a little more before stepping in to help them do something.  Work on helping them manage their frustration rather than solving the problem for them, and give them the space to learn something for themselves rather than teaching them to stop trying because an adult will always be able to do it better than them.

It’s not easy, but it’s worth it, so I hope you give it a try!

About Simon

I'm a dad, a teacher and a business owner, doing my best to make every day count. I'm determined to shape the way the next generation feel about exercise, and I'm doing this by showing children the difference between enjoying exercise as part of healthy lifestyle, and participating in exercise as a means to perform in sport. I'm also helping parents learn how to include exercise as a normal part of daily life, and working with schools and teachers to change the way they present exercise to children in the foundation years.

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