How to Teach Grit to Your Teen

Remember how difficult your teenage years were? Now, think about the added pressures your teen currently faces, such as the competitiveness to get into college and the additional pressures of social media.

One way to help teens overcome these challenges, and an education buzzword of recent years, is grit, which is the ability to see a task through to completion. Teaching your teen grit can instill a strong work ethic and help them avoid distractions to maintain focus to complete long-term goals.

6 Ways to Teach Your Teen Grit

Recent studies suggest that this perseverance can be a determining factor in your teen’s long-term success and happiness. Understanding grit, and how to teach it your teen, can be challenging because it means allowing them to work out the problem to solve it on their own.

But the steps below show that teaching grit doesn’t have to mean standing back and watching your teen fail. Instead, grit is about understanding the entire process of learning, from grasping the topic, struggling with it, and finally succeeding.

#1: Teach grittiness by example

Even though we struggle with new activities as adults, our teens don’t always see that struggle. Though it may not always seem like it, to them, we’re still superheroes. And, while it’s great to be a superhero, letting your teen observe you struggling when taking on new challenges can be beneficial.

#2: Allow your teen to get frustrated

One of the hardest tasks as a parent is standing back as your teen struggles trying something new. But, your teen learns more from the struggle than by you helping. Even if they end up failing, the process of struggling and seeing progress can help them in the future, especially when reinforced.

#3: Offer praise for your teen’s strong effort

It’s easy to offer praise for results, such as a good grade, a good performance during the school play, or scoring a goal on the soccer field. But teaching grit includes praising the effort behind those good performances. When you praise the effort, and not just the result, you’re reinforcing the process, which leads to more good performances.

#4: Remember that perfection is not the goal

When your teen performs a new activity, you can see in advance if they’ll succeed or fail. But just because they’re likely to fail at something doesn’t mean the experience and process of learning wasn’t valuable. In the long run, struggling at a new challenge is more beneficial than only doing things that come naturally.

#5: Let your teen tackle tasks on their own

Constantly intervening in your teen’s activities undermines their confidence and creates a fear of failure, which may lead to a sense of perfectionism that can paralyze them from trying new things. Instead of jumping in when you see them struggle, step back and let them figure it out for themselves, so that they can develop the critical thinking skills of overcoming new challenges.

#6: Don’t set your teen up for failure

There’s a difference between difficult tasks and impossible ones. Breaking difficult tasks into smaller, more achievable steps improves the likelihood of success and helps the overall learning process.

On the other hand, giving your teen an impossible task and stepping back and watching them fail can harm your already fragile relationship. Make sure you’re available at every step with pointers and guidance, without actually completing any of the steps.

Does Your Teen’s School Teach Grit?

Many schools and districts are trying innovative approaches to creating a culture that focuses on developing non-cognitive skills, such as grit. Some of these approaches include:

  • Redesigning learning environments to support development
  • Embedding non-cognitive teaching and learning into the culture of the school
  • Using non-cognitive curricula, instructional resources, and strategies

Be sure to discuss these and other techniques with your teen’s teachers and coaches to see if they’re incorporating some of the lessons into their curriculum.

Teach Grit to Your Teen

Your teen has tons of pressure socially, academically, and personally. However, what we all learn is that those pressures don’t magically go away once you enter your 20s and in many cases, the pressures only increase.

Teaching grit and how to find ways to overcome obstacles while completing difficult tasks can be a cornerstone of your teen’s success in high school, college, and adulthood.

Take the time to work through new tasks with your teen to set an example, such as building a deck, running a marathon, learning how to code computer programs, or anything else. Not only will it give you a chance to spend time with them, but it can also teach valuable life lessons.

As a staff writer for, Michael O’Brien posts articles about the current trends in graduate education and in different fields. Follow him on Twitter (@mikedobrien) for the latest graduate school news, as well as trends in content marketing and social media marketing. is the authority graduate school resource and posts valuable information about all majors and fields at every graduate level and in all learning formats. Plus, they cover current trends in each field, such as deciding between a master’s vs. a Ph.D. and Grad Schools that Accept a Low GPA. Follow them on Twitter (@AllGradSchools) and Facebook for that latest news in advanced degrees.