Building Character Strengths in Children

Building character strengths in children seem to be a battle for parents of all generations. Societal evils have grown, changed, adapted themselves to how our value system has evolved. We as parents seek new, innovative methods to inculcate good habits, nurture character and instill life-long values. However how many of us really understand what are character strengths? Are these genetic? If yes, which ones are genetic and what can be nurtured? If not then why is it such a struggle to bring about changes in a child after a difficult childhood? We will discuss 10 or 12 vital Character strengths that are a must for each child’s development in a series of blog-posts.

Character strengths are defined as a set of strengths contributing to the well-being of the child, that every parent wants to see in their child, across time, geographical barriers and religion. They range from Zest, Grit, Resilience, Social Intelligence, Kindness and more, to Love. Yes, Grit and Love both are character strengths. Research has tried to identify which of these character strengths are genetic. It is very difficult to nail them down, despite years of research by Dr. Angela Duckworth and her colleagues. However, the character strength we want to discuss today is Grit. And in order to limit ourselves to the point of discussion, Grit seems to be a character strength that can be nurtured. So what is Grit? – Ability to stick through the hard times, to sustain through difficult times in the face of adversity, to pursue single-mindedly a small set of goals.

So when should a parent begin to worry about whether his child is developing grit or no? In short, what are the tell-tale signs that a parent should be worried about in regards to the character strength – Grit?

1)      The child does not like to take up difficult tasks

There are times when children analyse the size of the problem. Basis what they see, they either think they can crack it or no. If in doubt, they do not want to even initiate the thought of problem-solving.

2)      The child uses statements like – I don’t think I can continue with this OR I am done!(when they are actually not!) OR I don’t want to do this anymore!

Statements of these natures show us the child’s thought about thinking creatively or even generic thinking. The child was able to muster up courage to begin the project, but suddenly seems to have lost interest. It could be because of boredom, but it also could mean he is not able to think further to compete it. Or that suddenly the problem at hand seems larger than what the child had anticipated. Losing interest very fast and moving on from a project or subject at hand is also considered to be a serious deficiency in Grit.

3)      Fragile Through-breds (Dominic) – Children who have always been successful in life, never tasted failure might not really want to finger projects or activities where they see themselves fail.

Grit is not about succeeding in life. It is about sustaining through the process of deliberate practice to achieve goals. Give it a thought, what do you do in your daily life for your child to learn Grit? The best way to reflect is always to write down. Go ahead, takea sheet and a pen. To begin with pen down 3 things you are doing to teach Grit. Add one more to the list every week.

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