Fostering grit in the youth of today

Grit is the perseverance through hard times and failure, an important skill that adults can help foster in the youth they work with.

Today’s youth seem to have less motivation and personal drive compared to the youth yesterday. Youth today are afforded a ton of opportunities and experiences that could only be dreamed of 30 years ago. From sports to educational trips and experiences, youth can get involved in just about anything that interests them. The question is now, “Do the youth of today possess grit?” Grit can be defined in a lot of different ways, but it is the perseverance through hard times and failure. Angela Duckworth, a researcher and leading psychologist for grit study, has defined grit as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.”

Why does grit in youth matter? Research has been linking grit as a determinate to whether or not one will succeed and be successful in life. There is a notion those that work hard will succeed not matter what, and if you are gifted, smart or live in an stable environment, you have already written your ticket to success. That isn’t the case anymore. The youth of today have so many options and when the going gets hard for them, they are more often than not to just quit. If they are in sports and it gets tough for them, they quit and do something else.

How do adults help foster grit in the youth they work with? Adults that work with youth should help them see further beyond the goal in mind. Adults should help motivate youth to build confidence, even through the toughest times of achieving that goal. The biggest of this is practice. You get better by doing something over and over again, not just by quitting.

If you you would like to learn more about grit and Duckworth’s work, please visit her current research at “Angela Duckworth and the Research on ‘Grit’.” Michigan State University Extension helps youth grow grit everyday through our vast youth programs. For more information on these programs, visit the MSU Extension website.

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