“Grit” marks the new buzzword of the parenting advice world. But what does it mean, and why do our kids need it? According to researcher Angela Duckworth, grit provides a better predictor of future success, earnings, and happiness than any other single factor. In fact, grit outperforms IQ, emotional intelligence, and talent. While the term might conjure up images of John Wayne, Duckworth defines grit as, “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” Fortunately, instilling grit in kids is one of the many benefits of family travel.
Let’s explore the concept of grit in greater depth and how you can instill it in children through family vacations.
As Duckworth argues, grit represents an admixture of multiple qualities including:
How do these traits impact the level of success we enjoy in life? They allow us to remain optimistic, forward-thinking, and proactive despite encountering difficulties and roadblocks along our road to success. Let’s face it, every goal worth attaining comes with its own unique challenges and difficulties. No wonder grit matters!
Cultivating personal grit allows us to foster faith in the ultimate outcome of our endeavors even when we don’t see visible progress for months or even years. Grit lets us continue working towards a goal when it looks insurmountable. After all, when we’re in the midst of pursuing an ambitious outcome, we have no way of knowing whether or not we will prove successful. Persevering with passion and determination despite the odds is grit in a nutshell.
While this all sounds well and good, is grit really that important? What about factors such as talent, IQ, family income, and education level? Don’t kids who are smart, talented, and raised in affluent households prove more successful than their at-risk counterparts? According to Duckworth, the answer’s a firm no.
Duckworth and her team of researchers studied the traits and background information of successful individuals from West Point cadets to spelling bee finalists. They concluded that children of advantage were no more likely to succeed than children of disadvantage. Only one common denominator existed between all highly successful individuals: grit. Or, put another way, how effectively individuals pursued their goals despite facing obstacles and even failures.
While Duckworth admits there’s no one formula for instilling grit, adopting a “growth mindset” helps. What’s a growth mindset? According to the Observer, “The belief that your abilities can be improved with effort.” Put another way, don’t think of IQ, talent, emotional intelligence, or grit as fixed numbers. Know that these characteristics can be developed and strengthened through hard work and determination. Then, make sure your kids understand and put this into practice, too.
The Benefits of Family Travel
When it comes to teaching kids grit, setting long-term goals and then working hard to reach them will teach your kids critical lessons about perseverance. Make certain that your kids see the “behind-the-scenes” aspects of preparing for a trip, including the challenges and frustrations. Create a family graph or chart that you color in together each time you contribute to your travel fund.
Encourage your kids to plan, too. How? By setting aside money for the trip, learning useful phrases in the language(s) of your destination, studying a country’s geography, reading stories about its culture and history, and so on. Praise them for challenging themselves and focus on the process rather than the outcome. Compliment them on their determination and resilience rather than how “smart” or “successful” they are.
The Journey Rather than the Destination
Place an emphasis on the process of preparing for travel. Remember that it’s about the journey rather than the destination. Of course, while on vacation, obstacles will arise. Whether it’s lost luggage or a delayed flight, your children will watch to see how you respond to frustration. Show them that you’ve got grit and determination by overcoming these challenges calmly and creatively.
What’s more, don’t shelter kids from frustration while traveling. Let them experience and overcome it. Place faith in your children to exercise resilience, determination, and problem-solving skills, and they’ll rise to the occasion. And when they fall short? Take time to discuss how they might respond to future challenges in a “grittier” way.
Whether it’s dealing with language barriers, trying new foods for the first time, or getting adventurous, travel with kids places you and your family outside of your comfort zone. You may do things you never thought possible, like ziplining hundreds of feet above a rainforest, snorkeling with sea lions, or camping in the desert with Berbers. Travel, more than any other activity, represents a catalyst for personal growth for your whole family. Travel builds grit.
We’re Here to Help
Interested in learning about other benefits of family travel? Or, maybe you’re looking for the perfect kid-friendly destination for your next vacation?
At Our Whole Village, we create tours carefully designed for families who want to create lasting memories while making a difference. We’re here to help you and your family experience the world, its people, and its cultures. Contact us today to learn more about the unforgettable experiences that we handcraft for families just like yours.