Raising Resilient Kids

Mr Geoff Lancaster | Principal | Grammar News |19 November 2021


With the eased COVID restrictions and ability to travel further than our local area, I made the most of the time in the car last Saturday by listening to a podcast on Spotify that I thought sounded interesting. It was a conversation between Simon Sinek and Angela Lee Duckworth about Raising Resilient Kids. It is an episode in a series by Simon Sinek called “A Bit of Optimism”, something we all need after the last couple of years.


Angela Lee Duckworth is a psychologist/author/speaker who is best known for her work on “Grit - the power of passion and perseverance”. The discussion revolves around helping young people manage stress in a healthy way that helps them to build resilience and a sense of purpose and significance, rather than responding to stress by giving up or feeling detached and disconnected.


They speak about the demographic shift resulting in smaller families, which is one factor that has increased the temptation for parents to be overprotective and intervene prematurely in potentially powerful learning experiences for their children. Their observations are that many modern parents are inclined to rescue their children from any chance of failure and feel the need to minimise risk for their children. They gave an example of finishing work our children start, taking over when they begin to struggle.


Struggle is a critical part of learning and if you shield your child from discomfort, he or she learns that they should never have to feel anything unpleasant in life, potentially developing a false sense of entitlement. When we as parents or colleagues “martyr” ourselves for the sake of others, it is counterproductive and often results in those we are trying to help not caring about finishing tasks and quality - they know we will intervene and fix it anyway.


The advice they give is that we need to find ways for our children to feel they belong and are significant. They suggest we intentionally put our students in situations where they need to help others, particularly helping those with similar struggles to the ones they have experienced. This teaches them to be interdependent on others, helpful, responsible, to understand consequences, and for them to follow through on tasks that are hard and imperfect. From this, they will learn to see their own struggles with perspective. Angela Lee Duckworth commented that in respect to their need for significance, it is more important that you let your children do things for you, rather than you doing things for them all the time.


Some great advice that I encourage you to consider!