Raising Succesful Kids

It is quite ironic that I started writing this post a year ago. As with most things I seem to be ahead of the game and then forget about it or lose motivation! “Grit” seems to be a buzzword at the moment. According to Sally Webster anyway!

I’ve recently gotten into the habit of taking Little Miss OMG for a spin in the car to get her to sleep for her daytime naps. (I know it’s a bad idea,) but, it gives me a chance to relax for 15 minutes looking at the beautiful scenery right on our doorstep.

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It all comes down to GRIT

On todays drive I listened to Newstalk (I’ve hit that age where I prefer my radio stations filled with talk rather than music!) and caught a discussion on Success. It began with the usual topic of what defines success, then moved to another more interesting area. What makes some people more successful than others.

At this point they played some clips of Angela Duckworth’s Ted Talk, about the research she had done on the subject and her conclusion that it all comes down to GRIT. Basically ones ability to keep persevering to achieve a long-term goal, even with setbacks along the way.

The people who scored highest on her grit test were the ones who had gone on to be more successful. The theory was tested on college students, West Point cadets and employees in businesses. In all cases it wasn’t those with the highest IQ who were the most successful.

This got me thinking. I wouldn’t call myself a success. I’ve put this down to nurture, rather than nature. The effects of what happened when I was younger affecting my behaviour and thinking nowadays.

What if I’m prewired this way?

Will I therefore pass on these behaviours to my kids? 

For example in a sports environment I will not give up. The school football team was losing seven nil at half-time. Some of my team mates were saying there’s no point finishing. I was there ready to go back out and keep going to the end. The same with cross-country running. In a race or training I would keep going and pushing myself to finish.

In all other areas of life I’ve no competitiveness or drive at all. Happy to bumble along. I’m not good at setting goals and sticking to them. (Yes I know that this can be changed with a bit of willpower and determination. Sadly lacking.)

I listened in to the rest of the show with great interest. Basically to raise children to have grit, we need to teach them how to deal with failure. We need to teach them it is ok to fail, but that they can get back up and try again. 

When I was at school we had winners and losers!

I hated losing! At anything football, table tennis, athletics, scrabble etc. I still remember hiding in the toilets to cry after Spurs lost the 87 FA cup final to Coventry.

If I didn’t win a trophy on sports day I was determined to win one the following year.

Third place that year.

At sports days now, everyone gets the same medal for taking part. What does this teach our children? It’s ok to lose you still get a medal? What incentive is there to try harder the next time? I watched with pride today as Buddy spent 20 minutes trying to tie his shoelaces. I asked did he want help. He replied “No I can do this!”

I see many parents at the Park helping their children up the stairs, across the obstacles etc. I leave Little Miss OMG exploring on her own. If she asks for help I tell her what to do to get across. Hopefully by doing this she will learn to persevere on her own.

I’m constantly telling her she can. When she says “I can’t do it!”

I understand that children need to be encouraged. That constant failure can have a negative effect. But looking at Little Miss OMG I see a determination and stubbornness that if nurtured can see her grow to be a success.

My father often told me I could be anything I wanted to be. Then in the next breath told me I had to get an education. Society teaches us that being a success is having a “good job,” a big house and a big car.

Yet in today’s modern society house ownership is becoming out of reach for many people. There is no longer a job for life. Computers and Artificial Intelligence are advancing to a stage where it won’t be long before they are able to do many of the jobs that needed a live person to do before. 

The acquisition of wealth means that more of the world’s resources and money is held by the richest 10 per cent of the population.

So do we need to re-evaluate what society see’s as being a success or do we need to teach our children to be successful in today’s world.

My main wishes for my children would be that they are able to be self-sufficient and happy. If this means they work a lower paid job doing something they enjoy then so be it. If going to college and getting a degree isn’t for them, then that’s ok.

No matter what they want to do or achieve they need to know it’s ok to fail. It’s not OK to give up though.

What do you think? 

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10 thoughts on “Raising Succesful Kids

  1. I was never competitive in sports, didn’t really care if I lost & was really easy to give up such as college, I hated it so I packed it in.Later in life I wish I’d stuck things out and I have grown to persevere more and all my kids are different in their own ways.My boys seem to give up easily but my daughter is very stubborn,will try anything & will keep trying!

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  2. Well said! I completely agree – the way schools have taken up this no losers approach is crazy! Kids won’t learn anything if they aren’t able to fail. Fall down, get back up and try again! That’s what we should be teaching our kids!

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  3. Brilliant post! I’m so glad you decided to publish eventually!
    I think failure is an important thing to learn – and also to learn that it’s the getting back up that makes you a success and gives you reason to be proud.

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  4. YEEEEES! I agree. We have to teach our children that it is okay to fail, but we should always keep trying. Success means different things to different people, and I think that as long as we are happy with our own “success” then that is all that matters. I say that, but I am still trying to work out what success means to me….

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  5. We do the winning and losing thing here too, it’s how I grew up! I’m a bad loser, I don’t go near board games and my son has inherited my quick temper whoops. I’m pretty stubborn and determined with some things but I also want a fairly simple life and to be happy and that’s all I want for my children. They have to figure things out for themselves and I’m there to help when I can. I believe they’ll be successful but not necessarily in the eyes of a lot of today’s society but poo to them!

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  6. I read an article by Emily Hourican on the Independent yesterday, called Who Will Teach Our Children?, and your post touches on so many points she raises, about what success means, the future of education, etc.
    I never was competitive myself, but I do have a good dose of willpower/grit/stubbornness, which means I see things through. I hope my kids inherit this trait, whatever path their lives take in the future.
    #IPB

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  7. Brilliant post and I completely agree. When my littles say “I can’t” I always reply “yet…”. I think that children need to learn how to win and how to fail and get back up. It’s one of life’s greatest skills. I also agree that they need to feel comfortable and able to set their own definition of success and be happy with what they’ve achieved, whatever that may be, rather than aspiring to success as defined by pressures of society. Very well written Alan and powerful to read. Dx

    Like

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