Tag Archives: children and developing GRIT

Got hustle?

You’ve got one kid in your class who is knocking it out of the park…

  • they are on top of their assignments
  • they are engaged
  • they ask questions and are genuinely interested in learning

You’ve got another who is failing…

  • they are always behind the eight ball
  • they are disengaged
  • they are disinterested

What is the difference?  Intelligence?  Talent?  Ability?

Those factors may be a part of the picture, but its also very possible they are not the root of the problem.  I bet the deciding factor is: hustle.

What is hustle?  Tim Elmore in a recent post defines it like this:

Energy + Effort + Urgency = Hustle

Angela Duckworth in her book Grit identifies a similar standard for the high achiever; grit. Students with grit put forth more effort and exhibit more drive, even when they experience failure.  In fact, they re-frame failure as an opportunity to learn and approach the task with even more energy and effort.  They set goals and push themselves to accomplish them, even when it may appear that they have less talent or ability than someone else.

So how do we as educators and parents encourage hustle?  Here are a few ideas…

  • Focus on the experience of learning more than the experience of success— Help children understand that success is a process not an event.
  • Focus on effort more than talent or ability–Help children understand that energy and effort trumps ability or talent.
  • Focus on persistence and endurance–Help children understand that sticking with a task is more important than giving up especially when the outcome is uncertain.
  • Focus on serving others more than personal accomplishment–Help children understand how their efforts benefit others (their team, their family, their friends or their community) as well as themselves.

There are lots of ways to teach grit or hustle but one effective and engaging way is to use the examples and lives of well known individuals who have overcome failure, lack of resources and even personal handicaps to succeed.  Here are some great books to use:

Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream  by Deloris Jordan


Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table by Jacqueline Briggs Martin


Girls Think of Everything by Catherine Thimmeah


Harvesting Hope The Story of Cesar Chavez by Kathleen Krull


Odd Boy Out by Don Brown


The Tree Lady by H. Joseph Hopkin


Wilma Unlimited by Kathleen Krull


End of School Year Special

Get all 7 Wyatt story books:

Wyatt Goes to Kindergarten

Wyatt Learns about Being Organized

Wyatt Learns about Winning

Wyatt Learns about Cooperation

Wyatt Learns about Friendship 

Wyatt Learns about Good Manners 


Wyatt’s Book of Lesson Plans, Activities and Games

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Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Winning

Wyatt the Wonder Dog didn’t make it on the All Star baseball team and he feels like a loser.  All  his friends will be playing baseball this summer, while he and his pesky sister, Callie, visit grandparents at the beach.  How Wyatt learns to handle disappointment and failure will be an important lesson for the future.  Will he give up trying new things?  Will he have the confidence to try again?  Are there some things that take more practice and persistence to learn than others? Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns About Winning
Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Winning (Wyatt the Wonder Dog Books) (Volume 5)


 Lesson Plan to teach growth mindset and grit with Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Winning

5 Ways to help children develop GRIT

Prepare the child for the path; not the path for the child.  (author unknown)

Businesses today are dealing with the effects of our parenting styles from the 80’s and 90’s. Because I do coaching and training with businesses, I hear the results of those indulgent parenting styles everyday. Children who got participation trophies for just showing up at an event, now expect careers that reward the same type of behavior.  While we focused on developing self-esteem in our children, in many ways we developed an entitlement mentality instead.

Today looking back, there are important lessons that have been learned about self-esteem and it’s connection to affirmation and achievement.  Parents and educators today can benefit from our experiences.  Here’s what we know now: Hollow affirmations about how smart and talented children are without regard to the outcome, create an entitlement mentality.  Realistic affirmations and encouragement based on a children’s abilities and efforts develop children with grit. What is Grit?  Grit is made up of passion and persistence,  necessary ingredients for success.

How to prepare the child for the path, not the path for the child

Here are five ways as educators and parents we can develop children with grit who are not only successful but capable of handling the occasional failure or disappointment as well.

1 Connect–Take time to listen and develop the relationship.  We all need to know that someone cares about us, our feelings, our experiences and our perceptions of the world. You don’t have to always agree  but do take the time to listen.

2.  Believe– Teach children to believe in themselves by believing in them first.  Let them know the potential, the strengths, the talents that you see in them.  Especially in the face of failure,  you may need to remind them of those abilities that you see so clearly.

3. Expect achievement-Don’t settle for less than you know your child can deliver.  Encourage them to set big goals and then stretch to reach them.  Help them relish the challenge and obstacles involved. Encourage them to develop problem solving mental muscles and to see failure as a time to learn and grow.

4.  Hold them accountable– Some of the best lessons learned are those that are the hardest.  Help them develop persistence and perseverance by encouraging a never give up mentality. Don’t accept excuses and rationalizations.  Remind them that even when they don’t feel motivated, the team, the community, their family is counting on them to give their best.  Sometimes we don’t experience success until we learn to push past our own resistance.

5. Celebrate effort— Recognize the goals accomplished and the effort involved in reaching them.  Even in the face of failure show your excitement and approval for the energy and focus that it took to stay the course.

Related Posts:

Developing Resilience:  The Story Behind Kid President

Three Steps to Helping Kids Develop Self Discipline

What if failure is really a gift?


Teaching with Heart:  Understanding Personality Style

Do you sometimes feel that students at your school are speaking a different language?  Do you wonder how to motivate and inspire them?  In this ebook you will D-I-S-Cover your own personality style and learn to work in the strengths of each personality by recognizing the secret fuel and environmental needs for each.  Understanding the personality styles of students can revolutionize how you interact and lead in the classroom! teachingdiscover

 Click on the link below to purchase the ebook:

Teaching with Heart: Understanding Personality Styles