Growing “Grit”. New Determination Activity! (And Huffpost/TEDWeekend Celebration)

Every weekend The Huffington Post hosts a TEDWeekend. They introduce a powerful “idea worth spreading” based on a popular TEDTalk video and accompany it with new articles written by people who work within that field. This weekend research psychologist and former middle-school teacher Angela Lee Duckworth’s talk “The Key to Success? Grit” is the topic. It’s an issue near to my heart, and I was happy to be asked to write a response for The Huffington Post with my own thoughts as a teacher and father. You can read my piece here: Growing Gritty Kids (No Prison Time Necessary): Lessons From a Juvenile Detention Center. And make sure to check out all of this week’s TEDWeekend, including the TEDtalk that inspired it all. I’m most happy because this means more exposure for Tall Trees Grow Deep and our mission to keep growing awesome humans through the creation of activities that inspire mindfulness, contemplation, compassion, and creativity. In celebration, here’s our latest activity, which I talked about in my Huffington Post piece. It’s a very simple and effective method for growing that elusive grit which children need to succeed.

Duckworth’s research found that above everything else, including IQ, grit is the most essential trait that leads to success. Grit is that hard-working, gut-driven, long-term determination that pushes us to keep at it despite long odds and failure. It’s what kept Edison working on his light bulb after 673 dead ends. And as I said in my article, the best resources for teaching grit are a calendar and a challenge. Give a kid a a yo-yo, a guitar, a times table, a weaving loom, anything that takes time to learn. Encourage them to practice every day. Bribe as needed. Chart the progress. Help them handle their frustrations and anger when things go bad (don’t let them throw the piano through the window). Praise their effort over anything else. It’s great for kids when things come naturally (those wonderful pure talents), but it’s the skills they have to work hard at that will build grit and determination in them.

If your kids keep working at this one skill for a month, then success will be inevitable. When it comes, celebrate. Show them the calendar where they charted their progress. Have them count the minutes/hours they spent at it.  Then they’ll internalize the fact that with time and determination, great and difficult things are possible.

Here’s our latest activity to inspire! It’s simple but effective: The Grit Grower! Determination Activity. (It’s basically a calendar and some questions–but, hey, that’s all it takes). Help, encourage, bribe, and praise your kids’s effort (and, for bonus points, do it with them) as they learn a new skill. Help them see how determination and hard-work over an extended period of time leads to success.  This will be a lesson they can take with them for the rest of their lives.

The Grit Grower! Determination Activity

And don’t forget to check out my full piece at The Huffington Post.


Tall Trees Grow Deep is focused on creating and sharing free resources that inspire mindfulness, contemplation, compassion, creativity, deep-thinking, and awesomeness. All activities are universal–no religion necessary–and designed to work in the classroom or around the kitchen table. If you haven’t already, subscribe to get ideas and updates sent to your email. Or explore our growing page of free, printable, reproducible activities for home or school.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s