Happy Women’s Month, everyone! Today I’m sharing with you an interview I had with a good friend of mine, Rayna S. She is an entrepreneur, writer, and mom to daughter Kimmy, age 7. She talks to us today about how important it is to raise Kimmy with grit.
Now I’m not a mom, even if I love kids and have enjoyed working with them for years. But I’ve always been interested in what characteristics are important to develop in children especially in a daughter. Because let’s face it, women face particular challenges, and I can imagine that mothers want to make sure that their daughters grow up ready for these challenges.
So, in honor of Women’s Month, I asked one very special mom about how she is equipping her daughter to not just survive but actually thrive in this challenging word.
Defining GRIT, and determining why it’s so important
The first thing I asked Rayna, of course, was how important it is it to her that Kimmy develops this thing calls GRIT.
Rayna: As Asians, we are usually stereotyped to excel in everything we do; that our kids must have straight A+s and become something of a prodigy. Don’t get me wrong academic achievement is a great goal to have for our children. However, there is an even more crucial characteristic that needs to be instilled into them to succeed in this world, and that is grit.
Me: Okay, fair enough. But first things first, Ray. What is grit, anyway?
Rayna: Grit, simply defined, is one’s perseverance towards a goal. Someone with grit is someone who is passionate in mind and spirit and will not let failure get the best of him. Or her, in this specific context, since I’m talking about my daughter.
For example, in today’s world, it has become more and more common knowledge that we need to allow our children to fail because it’s good for them and it makes them learn.
However, what happens when they only fail and do not have the needed support to keep trying no matter what? Morale is broken, and all they learn from the process is that they’re failures.
This is where grit, and the need to develop it, comes in.
Me: Okay, I get you so far. We can’t coddle our kids and protect them from failure, but we do have to provide a support system when they fail.
Rayna: Exactly. And now, let me tell you HOW.
Ways to develop GRIT in your daughter
Rayna: I have a favorite quote from Lim Kit Kwan, an educational psychologist and child protection manager at The Learning Lab. She said that “Building resilience and cultivating the appropriate mindset to solve problems and overcome uncertainties are important. With these attributes, students feel more equipped to deal with challenges, more willing to face them and more confident of their abilities and strengths.”
Me: So grit is… resilience?
Rayna: Yes, but it’s more than that. Think about it as resilience plus the attitude that problems can be solves and uncertainties can be overcome. Therefore, amidst our instincts to protect and provide for our children, we must also obtain that balance of promoting independence and competence along with appropriate support.
Me: You make it sound like a balancing act.
Rayna: That’s exactly it. Parenting IS a balancing act in so many ways. For example, when I prepare my daughter’s meals, I have to strike the right balance between serving her food that she enjoys and food that’s good for her. If she had her way all she’s have would be pasta, chicken nuggets, fries, and ice cream. If I had my way she’d be completely vegetarian, which would be good for her but would make parties and other social events very challenging for her. And so, I make sure to strike a good balance.
Me: Okay, I’m convinced. Tell me some ways that you develop grit in Kimmy.
1. Instead of control, coach
Rayna: Here’s one. As a parent, I coach, I don’t control.
What does this mean? Well, to be honest, as a mom of a seven-year-old daughter, every bone in my body wants to protect her and make sure she is never hurt. No heartache from boys, no disappointments, and only success.
The stigma that girls have it harder than guys in many ways is still present, which only makes me want to shield her away from the pain even more. However, I also know better than to control her, because I grew up wanting to break away from my parents’ over-protective upbringing and this is something I don’t want to pass onto my child.
And so, my watchword is, instead of control, coach. Every athlete and professional has a coach who guides them to success. We should do the same for our children. Instead of doing things for our children, we do them alongside or with them because the latter teaches them how to become competent and builds confidence.
This is why I did not rush to my daughter when she was learning how to ride a bike. Of course, she fell. The first time it happened, she looked at me with a puzzled expression, gauging if I was going to panic and make sure that she was all right. When she saw that I was instead offering my support by telling her that she can get up on her own, she learned a valuable lesson: that I will always be there for her, giving my full support when she fails, and yet the act of getting back up on the bicycle again is all on her. So she did. Over and over again, until she learned to ride her bike.
Resist helicopter parenting
Me: Not stepping in sounds tough, to be honest.
Rayna: It is, especially at the beginning. Mothers and I’m sure, fathers too, have to stop themselves from overreacting every time their child has an accident.
But it does get easier, let me tell you. And now, when it comes to physical falls and tumbles, my motto is, “If there’s no blood, she’ll be fine.” This is good training for us parents as well because it teaches us to control and “handle the situation” less.
To be continued…
Rayna has quite a few more tips on building grit in her daughter, which will come in part 2, next week. I hope that our short snippet today has whet your appetite for the nuggets of wisdom to come.
In the meantime, however, you can head on over to The New Savvy for more parenting articles which I am sure you’ll enjoy and find helpful. Here’s one example, Giving Cash Rewards To Children – The Carrot and Stick Approach in Parenting. Or, if it’s another interview you’re looking for, The New Savvy talks to Mummys Market Founder, William Chin, on Empowering Mothers right here.
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