Perseverance is the key to building grit. There is no doubt that kids who develop it will lead happier and more productive lives than those who don’t. Listed below are few “grit builders” with corresponding “grit stealers.”
Teaching perseverance isn’t complicated. It requires a willingness to allow kids to experience healthy challenges as they grow. It also requires that we let them see that they have what it takes to cope with life’s challenges.
Social and Emotional Skills Form the Foundation of Success in Life
Social and emotional skills form the foundation of success in life. Why such a bold statement? Think about it—how important is self-control, patience, perseverance, decision-making, and the ability to resolve conflicts peacefully? How crucial is the ability to manage anxiety, anger, discouragement, and other uncomfortable emotions? How essential are the skills required to make and keep friends? Is learning how to empathize important?
All of us learn most of these very important skills through what we call the “Three Es” of Love and Logic—Example, Experience, and Empathy.
Modeling is one of the most powerful tools for teaching social and emotional coping skills. A powerful form of modeling takes place when our kids overhear us talking about our values. Young people are almost always more interested in what they overhear than what we provide in the form of a lecture. Kids can learn great lessons about coping with tough emotions, temptations, and conflicts by overhearing us verbalize positive self-talk.
Mistakes are priceless learning opportunities. When we err and experience not-so-pleasant results, we learn the importance of making better choices in the future. Learning self-control, empathy for others, decision-making, and other valuable social and emotional skills requires some humbling experiences and plenty of encouraging ones also.
Great parents and educators provide emotional support while allowing kids to blow it when the price tag is small. Few things build a greater sense of optimism and confidence than experiencing setbacks and overcoming them.
Empathy teaches empathy. When children see us using it with others, and experience it directly from us, they are far more likely to pass it on. Social and emotional success requires that children learn how to demonstrate empathy toward others as well as toward themselves.
What about “Explanations” as a fourth E?
Explanations are a fourth skill that can be helpful under the right circumstances. Explaining is an important tool for teaching social, emotional, and academic skills. It works well when we are calm, the child is calm, and we realize that it’s a relatively small part of the teaching process, particularly with challenging youth.
For more tips on teaching social and emotional skills at home and at school, join me at one of my one-day conferences near you. If you’re a parent, read Parenting for Success. If you’re an educator, take a look at our newly revised classic, Teaching with Love and Logic.
Love and Logic
I (Charles) learned an important lesson about fast food, focus, and the finality of many decisions we make. Rushing to my car, I placed the takeout package on the roof, unlocked the car, and pulled into traffic. Perceiving the honking of other drivers as pure road rage, I proceeded upon my way. It was amazing how long that meal clung to the top of my car before it flew under the tires of the F-150 behind me.
Our lives are full of decisions… and their consequences. They aren’t punishments. Nobody took my lunch, attempting to make me pay for my lack of focus. It was just a simple result of my lapse.
A few years ago, a tragic event occurred near our homes in Colorado. Some teens thought it would be fun to race around our mountain roads, taking turns “surfing” on the roof of their car. Is it possible these kids didn’t learn enough about the finality of consequences when they were younger?
Some who see themselves as more enlightened in the arenas of caring and compassion experience semi-aneurisms when they hear someone say, “allow kids to experience the consequences of their actions.” These are often people who care very much about kids who have experienced trauma and equate consequences with punishment. They also believe kids with trauma are capable… but not capable enough to learn from their actions. We’re confused. Do we want kids who’ve been hurt to remain victims, or do we want to empower them toward victory and self-esteem?
We agree that punishment, sarcasm, guilt, anger, and other negative practices do not work.
We disagree that consequences (or “results”) aren’t appropriate for kids who’ve had trauma. Their effectiveness just depends on how closely attached they feel toward the adult.
Positive relationships form the foundation of all effective discipline. The safety and security this provides allows all children to begin seeing the connections between their choices, actions, and resulting consequences. Kids who’ve experienced trauma need to experience the results of their actions… even when it doesn’t appear they are making the connection. As they experience the calmness and trust of loving attachment relationships, this cause-and-effect learning will begin to happen.
When delivered with love and empathy, logical consequences help provide accountability. In many cases, an element of restitution can give a child the chance to feel like he or she “made it right.” Loving accountability can help kids feel the following:
I can solve problems.
All kids thrive when they embrace these beliefs.
So, we’ll charge ahead, continuing to upset those who view themselves as superior to most folks in the areas of compassion and intellect. We’ll keep holding kids accountable with plenty of empathy and grace, and we will treat them as if they are capable of learning from life’s results. We’ll just keep helping more families raise kids who feel good about themselves and their ability to thrive in this challenging world.
Our behavior expectations at Monument are found in every classroom and throughout the building. Students are taught the expectations at the beginning of the year by their teachers and again throughout the year. By teaching the expectations and reminding them every day of the commitment we all have to those expectations, students experience success each day. We reinforceÂ students for their positive choices by verbally commending them, giving themÂ Monument MoneyÂ which can be redeemed for extra privileges, and the Student of the Month positive recognition assemblies held every month.Â Our teachers, staff, and parents work together for our fabulous students.
Monument PBIS Team
All Behavior is Chosen to Align with these Three Personal Standards
1. Be Respectful
2. Make Good Decisions
3. Solve Problems
Academic Progress and Expectations
The state under the direction of the federal government is changing the evaluation system of educators and also requiring action when a school is underperforming. Lists have been published by the state that identify schools that are struggling based on the MSP. Monument is on one of those lists along with most of the schools in our district. We have a district plan to help our students succeed that we are currently implementing.