5 Ways To Help Your Girl Build Grit

In fifth grade I stopped raising my hand.

It’s not that I wasn’t paying attention in class, I was. It’s not that I didn’t know the answer, I did. It’s not that I didn’t like talking…says the girl who has a stack of report cards which state, “talks too much in class.” I stopped raising my hand in fifth grade because I started to become aware of risks. Growing social awareness and the idea that my actions had the potential to produce weird looks or eye rolling from my peers kept me quiet.

And Fifth-Grade-Me came to the conclusion that low expectations and minimal participation was the road to a blissful existence. But that’s not how we are designed to live, and if you have a daughter, you know that helping your daughter grow into the woman God created her to be will inevitably produce weird looks and eye rolling from peers.

In 2013, psychologist and author, Angela Lee Duckworth flung the idea of grit out to the masses with her wildly popular TED Talk. In the talk, she shared one thing successful people have in common: grit. Grit is the combination of persistence and resilience. While I don’t want to raise my daughters to be motivated by achievements; I do want to raise them to point people to Jesus. And pointing people to Jesus doesn’t come from low expectations and minimal participation, and it certainly doesn’t come without understanding peristence and resilience.

So how do we cultivate grit? How do we promote courage? How do we encourage our girls to keep their heads high and their hands up? Here’s how.

1.) INTRODUCE YOUR GIRL TO BOLD WOMEN FROM THE BIBLE

Esther risked her life for her people. Hannah prayed constantly. Miriam saved her brother. Mary, the mother of Jesus surrendered her life. Bold, brave, and devoted, the accounts of these women never get old.

Read them, share them, read them again.

2.)  ENCOURAGE HER TO DO HARD THINGS BY ALLOWING HER TO WATCH YOU DO HARD THINGS

Before I could spell, I wanted to write. Saying you want to be a writer when you are nine is admirable. Saying you want to be a writer when you are twenty-three is irresponsible. It took me almost thirty years, two kids, and a slew of jobs to decide I didn’t want to be practical and that sure things usually leave us wanting. It’s easy to talk about raising brave girls; it’s harder to be an example of a woman with grit. Nudge, nudge.

3.) LET HER FAIL

Raise your hand if you ever learned a really important life lesson from easy success. Me either. It makes sense to gather your family and shield them from life’s hurts and struggles. Resist the urge.

4.)  INTRODUCE YOUR GIRL TO BOLD WOMEN FROM HISTORY

The first time I read about Nellie Bly, I was fourteen and I thought she was fictional. In the late 1800’s, Nellie, a journalist, spent time undercover researching sweatshops. She exposed the poor treatment of people with mental illness by pretending to be a patient in an asylum for ten days. Bly worked for better treatment of people in prison. She wrote about corruption, and she took on the challenge to travel the world in eighty days.

Bly showed fierce strength, stamina, and determination, and even better, she did so with a pen. Bly wasn’t a made-up character from a dusty novel. She was an actual woman from history.

Seeing someone be brave (even through the pages of books) inspires grit.

4.) TEACH HER TO RELY ON GOD (AND NOT HERSELF) FOR STRENGTH

Raising girls with guts and grit isn’t teaching girls to be self-reliant. It’s teaching girls to find strength in their relationship with God.

Your turn: How do you encourage grit and courage in your house? How do you balance teaching your kids to be brave while teaching them to be safe? Where are you feeling the nudge to live courageously?

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • good stuff Amy! I want my girl to have grit as well but I think I’ve been stifling that opportunity in some ways. This was a good read for me. Thanks friend!

    • Amy L. Sullivan

      Hey Melody,
      I get stifling…I tend to prefer safe over risky ( at least for my kids). Risky is so, what’s the word? Oh yeah. Risky. Thanks for stoppng by and reading, lady. Hope you are doing well!

  • Donna Miller

    I LOVE this! I want my grown up daughters to have grit and boldness in their God! I don’t believe I shielded them from every hurt but I do wish I had been able to help them work through the hurts better than I did. Thank you for this wonderful post! Blessings sweet sister! XO Donna

    • Amy L. Sullivan

      Donna,

      Oh, I know that feeling of wanting to help through hurts more…

      Thanks for reading and for sharing!

  • Lisa Van Engen

    This is so good! Each one. Grit is something schools are talking about more, which is so needful. I think letting our kids fail is the hardest, but you are so right, resist the urge. I just walked through a disappointment with my daughter. It was so hard, but watching her rise above it was a beautiful thing. Thanks for giving us the gift of gutsy girls to know.

    • Amy L. Sullivan

      Lisa,
      Ugh, walking through disappointment with kids is awful. I know that feeling. Also, I LOVE that schools are hitting resilience hard. My hubby just went to a workshop on it, and I think you did too…didn’t you?

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