The rule at the “grit” expert Angela Duckworth’s house? You can quit. But you can’t quit on a hard day.
Very young kids, she says, should be allowed to explore, even if that means abandoning projects and even practices.
The reason it’s sometimes all right to let a child quit, Dr. Duckworth said, is that the predecessor to developing grit is the kind of play that leads to passion. Parents shouldn’t be discouraged by those early starts and stops.
“Kids don’t work hard on things they don’t care about,” she says.
As children grow older, seeing things through becomes more important.
Instilling grit in your child requires a combination of being demanding and supportive, said Dr. Duckworth.
And parents need to “model” grit. Talk about the challenges you face now, or have faced in the past, and how you persisted. Tell family stories about the ways your clan just doesn’t quit.
And never discount the importance of fun. Children should be allowed to try the things they gravitate toward, and those sometimes don’t appear until a child has had time to explore and understand what makes him or her happy.