Building Grit Versus Stealing Grit (by Dr. Charles Fay)

Grit is the ability to persevere in the face of challenges and difficulties and it is something that is learned primarily through experience. Love and Logic contrasts two very common parenting styles—Helicopter Parents and Drill Sergeant Parents. Both parenting types steal the opportunity for kids to develop grit through experience.  Helicopter parents steal this experience from their kids by protecting them from struggling with problems. Drill Sergeant parents also steal this experience through sending the message that their kids can’t think and do for themselves, so the parent must do this for them.

In contrast to these two parenting styles, Consultant parents (Love and Logic parents) allow kids to learn perseverance through experience. These parents know that experience and consequences do the best teaching, even though kids will be challenged in the short term.  True achievement comes through struggle and perseverance, which is the key to building grit. There is no doubt that kids who develop grit through experience will lead happier and more productive lives than those who don’t. Listed below are few “grit stealers” with corresponding “grit builders.”

Grit Stealer:  Micromanage or rescue your kids.

Grit Builder:  Allow your kids to make affordable mistakes and live with the consequences.


Grit Stealer:  Constantly tell them that they are bright, gifted, or exceptionally talented.

Grit Builder:  Celebrate effort, hard work, and perseverance.


Grit Stealer:  Immediately gratify their desires.

Grit Builder:  Let them wait for what they want.


Grit Stealer:  Talk badly about yourself.

Grit Builder:  Show your kids that you maintain a positive attitude when you make mistakes.


Grit Stealer:  Model perfectionism.

Grit Builder:  Let them see you make mistakes.


Grit Stealer:  Try to always keep them happy. Give them the impression that life should never be upsetting or stressful.

Grit Builder:  Allow them to experience a natural and full range of emotions. Show that you care by expressing empathy.

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.

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