A couple of years ago, a movie remake of True Grit came out, featuring a gritty, tenacious 14-year-old named Mattie.
Mattie was extremely likable. She was persistent, smart, persistent, well-spoken, and persistent.
If she’d been playing sports, she would be the one working in the off-season and after practice. She would be the one not backing down when opposing teams tried to intimidate.
Unfortunately, there is no easy way to infuse our kids with that kind of persistence. But there are some ways you can help your kids grow some grit:
- Let your young athletes learn to solve problems by themselves. It’s easier to give them answers and do their thinking for them, especially when they beg us to help them decide on something, but that doesn't help your child grow grit. They must learn to confront the coach or teammates when there’s a problem. Let them figure out how to better their undesirable situation.
- Let your kids fail. It takes every ounce of self-control I have not to step in and keep my child from failing when they’ve backed themselves into a corner. And quite honestly, I feel there are times when we can exhibit grace and love and step in to help in a tough situation, but more often than not, we must let our kids fail and get back up again.
- Let your kids work hard. Don’t let them off the hook when they need to spend extra time practicing their hitting or their shooting. Give them jobs that will challenge and push them–not so hard that they never succeed, though. Work with them until they are ready to stand on their own.
- Let your kids see your true grit. In the past few years our family has gone through some pretty tough stuff. Through it all, my husband and I have persisted. Painful experiences gave us an opportunity to show our kids what tenacity looks like. Because of that, they have practiced persistence in their own lives. You’ve heard it before, and I’ll say it again: your kids will hear your life more than they hear your words.
In the movie, Mattie’s tenacity paid off. After much discouragement and a few failures, she achieved her goal.
And as sports parents, we can celebrate when our kids exercise their true grit and experience success.
Janis B. Meredith has been a sports mom for 20 years, and a coach’s wife for 28, and sees life from both sides of the bench. She writes a popular blog called JBM THINKS.
photo credit: Sangudo
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