What is Grit (and does it come with eggs)?
The last decade has seen some groundbreaking research on the concept of grit; the trait that keeps a person forging on in the face of adversity and sticking to their long-term goals. Angela Duckworth of the University of Pennsylvania has found that grit is more important than IQ and talent in predicting who would drop out of West Point during the pre-academic summer training program, or which novice teachers would stick it out in their tough inner-city schools, or which kids would make it through the National Spelling Bee.
Undoubtedly, grit is also important in determining which children will persist in their pursuit of a Junior Black Belt in Krav Maga. The real question is whether Krav Maga teaches a child who hasn’t historically displayed much grit to be more, well…gritty. My observations, personal experience and anecdotal reports from parents lead to me to a resounding yes. In fact, parent reports indicate that young Kravologists often display more grit in other endeavors where they had previously displayed little, such as academics.
Take the Time to Get Punched in the Face (every now and then)
Krav Maga provides a perfect combination of elements that promote perseverance. Scenario-based training, hard and fast drills, and challenging belt testing provide the student with physical and mental challenges not otherwise experienced in daily life. Through repeated exposure, the student develops a tolerance for these stressors while learning that they are capable of more than they ever thought; a mental toughness, or grit, that can serve them in any of life’s challenging endeavors.
Facilitating Grit at Home
So, how do you promote grit at home? First, instill in your child the habit of finishing what they started. This starts when they wake up in the morning. Teach them that the task of waking up is not finished until their bed is made. Second, provide process praise instead of praising innate ability. For example, instead of praising your child for being smart, praise them for working hard and for staying focused on a task despite its difficulty.
Combine grit with self-control, as described by Walter Mischel, and a “growth mindset”, as described by Carol Dweck, and you get what I like to call the trifecta of success. Do more to develop grit and you will surely prosper!
Future articles will cover the remaining elements of self-control and growth mindset and how they are promoted by training in Krav Maga (and can be reinforced at home).