The Importance of GRIT
Dr. Natascha Crandall is a psychologist and educator with a special interest in enhancing children’s growth and development through research and the power of media. She is the founder of Crandall Consulting, LLC (www.crandallconsulting.org).
Natascha earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Developmental Psychology from The Pennsylvania State University and continued her studies in Rehabilitation Counseling at The University of Maryland. After obtaining her Master’s degree, Natascha worked as an Addictions Therapist for young mothers in economically depressed areas near Washington, DC. She then chose to further her education and received her Doctorate in School Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University, and earned a “Dissertation of Distinction” award for her research and writing skills. It was there that she discovered the power of furthering creative development by gathering information from young children; and thus her love of educating children through media began.
Natascha has extensive experience in curriculum development, script review, and formative research for leading shows including: Sprout’s, Driftwood Bay, The Floogals, Nickelodeon’s Peter Rabbit, Zack and Quack, Bubble Guppies, The Backyardigans, The Wonder Pets, DreamWorks Animation’s Noddy, CBeebies’ Bing Bunny, The Octonauts, Sesame Tree, DHX Media’s Space Ranger Roger, Bob the Builder, HiT Entertainment’s Wellie Wishers, and many Sesame Workshop international co-productions.
Although Natascha would say that she is a New Yorker at heart, the truth is that she resides in New Jersey with her tech savvy husband, two media loving/addicted children, one horrible, naughty, very bad cat, and a psychotic puppy.
- Try to set up games that expose children to new challenges that will help them gain “grit” factors.
- Games that promote resilience and positive self-talk are most beneficial. These activities test children’s determination to complete a difficult task.
- Encourage child to talk through the problem and keep playing while reinforcing they can get past the obstacle on their own!
Dr. Natascha Crandall is a psychologist and educator with a special interest in enhancing children’s growth and development through research and the power of media.
Academic achievement for children is the desire of all parents. Why? Because it suggests that their child is on the road to success- success in getting into college, success in the workforce, and success in life. For parents of young children, they hope their child can get a jumpstart on their academic future by enrolling their children in academically rigorous preschool programs, or buying them the “right” toys.
But what if there was more to this recipe of success... What if one was to suggest that there are differences within us that also play a role in how successful we will become? Recent research done by Angela Lee Duckworth suggests that there are not just other factors that play a role in success, but that these factors are even more significant than academic achievement and intelligence alone. These are personality factors related to how one approaches new challenges and result in the development of “grit.”
Grit is defined as “a passion and perseverance to accomplish long term goals whatever the obstacles and no matter how long it may take.” For young children- preschoolers- grit is not yet something that they have acquired; however, it is something that they can start to develop. While researchers do not yet have the hard evidence of how to develop grit, they know that some non-cognitive personality factors are related to it and may contribute to gaining a sense of grit. Some of these factors relate to being resilient (not giving up), having a growth mindset (having a positive view of one’s intellectual capabilities), and positive self-efficacy (positive self-talk).
Sounds great, right? And what is even better is that children can develop grit just by playing! Of course, parents are told to not just let their children play, but to play with their children. Playing with your children will help them develop a whole slew of cognitive advantages, including grit! Great! Just don’t get in the way.
Take a look at this video of a young mother playing trains with her two-year-old son:
What did you see? What did she do that was positive?
- ✓ She was on the floor with him.
- ✓ She encouraged him to say words.
- ✓ She encouraged him to keep playing.
She had very good intentions, and was trying to promote his play by fixing the train tracks even before he could notice that they were broken. BUT…
- Χ Did she tell him that he can do it by himself?
- Χ Did she show him that he can do it?
- Χ Did she play with him?
If her goal was to teach him how to move trains on a track, and that she would always be there to fix his problems, then she succeeded. If her goal was to help him develop grit, then she may need to try again.
I wish I could tell this mother to wait and see what happened when the tracks broke… He would have cried, yes, but I would have told her not to be afraid of that. Some frustration is good - it fuels the fire that makes him want to figure it out for himself. I would have told her to tell him that he can fix it and that he was capable of fixing it or at least let him try to fix it. I would have also told this mom to PLAY! She was monitoring his playing but not playing with him. I would have handed her a train and said “Show him how to be resilient. When the track breaks say something like ‘Uh-oh, the train broke! I can fix it. Oh, that didn’t work… I will keep trying. I did it!’ and then see what happens.”
But let’s not be too hard on her, because… full disclosure, that young mother was me! And that little boy is now 10 years old. I know what you are wondering… does he have grit? Well, he has some but he is still a child and we are working hard on increasing it. Is it all my fault? Maybe, but I am sure that his future psychologist will have a lot of other things to worry about as well.
What about you? Another way to teach your child how to be gritty is to model being gritty yourself! It is not too late for any of us. We can increase our grit. See where you stand with this online grit scale developed by Angela Duckworth. And now that you know the importance of and how to build grit, be gritty and rejoice in all of your achievements.