9 Activities To Build Grit and Resilience in Children (2023)

Angela Duckworth’s TED Talk on “grit” as one of the most important predictors of success went massively viral in 2013. Her 2016 book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance was an instant New York Times bestseller.

By now, Duckworth’s concept has made its way into national education policy and public schools in California even grade schools and students on grit.

But despite grit’s prevalence, Duckworth says the concept is often misunderstood. Duckworth’s definition of grit is “passion and perseverance toward long-term goals,” but she says people often overlook the passion part.

Perseverance and especially passion may sound unteachable but they aren’t. It just takes time and consistency. Repeat the following activities with your child to help them develop their inner grittiness, putting them on the path to happiness and success.

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1. Help Your Child Find Purpose

A study by psychology researchers including Dr. Carol Dweck and Dr. David Yeager indicates students are more motivated to succeed when they have a core purpose.

The study involved brief online interventions, including asking students to write how the world could be a better place, reading stories about how performing in school could help students positively impact the world, and having students think about their own dreams and how their education could help them achieve their goals.

As students developed the belief they could achieve purpose in life, they grew more motivated and performed better academically. They were also more likely to persist toward a degree.

You can help your child develop grit (both passion and perseverance) by discussing theirgoals and purpose in life. Then talk about the steps required in order for your child to reach their goal.

(Video) How to build grit and resilience in children | Dr Yvonne Skipper | The PAME Code

If your child is younger, try a simpler, more engaging approach like a dream board. Also called vision boards, dream boards are a powerful visualization tool to help kids create and achieve their goals.

On a sheet of poster board, your child posts images or text that reflect their passions, hopes, and goals. Visualizing what they want to achieve will help your child develop a positive mental attitude and focus on their passion and purpose.

Creating a dream board fosters grit because it will help your child celebrate their passions and link those passions to specific goals they would like to achieve. Plus, it’s a fun activity for the two of you to do together!

2. Encourage Your Child to Conduct “Grit Interviews”

Children learn pessimism or optimism from the adults in their lives, so providing opportunities for your child to learn from positive resilientadults is key.

Your child can interview grandparents, neighbors, or other acquaintances who have worked hard toward a long-term goal.

These interviews will teach your child how to live life with gritin addition to the benefits that come with passion and perseverance.

You can share your resilience stories with your child as well. It’s helpful for kids to understand that even adults canmake mistakes, but then try again and ultimately solve a problem or reach a goal.

As your child hears stories about grit from people they admire (including you), they'll want to mirror these values in their own life.

3. Share Stories of Resilient Famous People

Your child can also learn from stories about famous people who used passion and perseverance to reach long-term goals, often with failures or setbacks along the way.

Stories like Michael Jordan not making his Varsity team, or J.K. Rowling’s manuscript for Harry Potter being rejected almost a dozen times, will show your child how perseverance through failure can lead to great success.

(Video) Cultivating Grit and Resilience in Children

If any of these famous people had given up when they experienced failure, they would never have achieved their fame and success. “Luck” is an illusion; success is about hard work and persistence toward something you’re passionate about.

4. Teach About Grit Through Nature

We can certainly learn lessons about perseverance from nature. Just think about the Tupac Shakur poem “The Rose That Grew from Concrete.”

The poem reads:

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You can read this poem with your child to discuss what represents the concrete represents in their lives.What are their obstacles? Next, discuss how your child can “breakthrough concrete” like the rose. What can they do to overcome theirobstacles and reach their dreams?

This activity is a fun way to practice components of Gabriele Oettingen’s WOOP strategy and help your child develop grit. You can also show your child pictures or real-life examples of the resilience and perseverance of nature, then connect these images to how your child lives their own life.

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Be sure to check out our Best Sellers Bundle PDF (ages 5-11). It includes our three most popular printable kits packed with science-based growth mindset activities, guides, and crafts for children. With over 50 pages, this kit will help your children or students understand they have the capacity to learn anything.

5. Teach About Grit Through Literature

Similarly, you can help your child learn about grit by reading relevant books, poems, or short stories.

For instance, read stories of perseverance such as The Little Engine That CouldorChelsea Clinton's She Persisted Around the World: 13 Women Who Changed History.

(Video) A Lesson On Resilience

Use stories like The Hugging Tree: A Story About Resilienceby Jill Neimark. It tells the story of a tree that grows alone on a cliff. The tree faces many challenges, but it continues to stand strong, find the positive, and ultimately help others with their own challenges.

These are fun, colorful stories your child will request again and again! As you read these stories, you can also help your child form connections to their own life. Talk about their challenges, their response to failures, and how to live their own life with grit.

Don't forget to download our FREEWhen I Feel Worried Posterso your child has a list of their own coping strategies to calm anxiety and worry.

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6. Ask, “What’s the Hard Part?”

When your child feels discouraged or tempted to give up, try asking them, “What’s the hard part?”-Parenting blogger

Once your child has identified what is difficult for them, repeat the information back in your own words. This helps your child identify their biggest challenge, allowing them to break it down into a more manageable task.

After the two of you have identified the challenge, ask your child what they could do to fix or overcome “the hard part.” They'll likely arrive at an answer and realize problems can be solved if they persevere and takes the time to think the problems through.

Don’t give your child the answer, even if you have to guide them to it.

Helping your child find “the hard part” and navigate a way to overcome the challenge is a powerful way to teach them about grit.

7. Follow the “Hard Thing Rule”

Angela Duckworth teaches grit to her own two daughters using the “Hard Thing Rule.” Duckworth’s rule has three parts:

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  1. Each member of the family has to do something hard, "something that requires practice, something where you're going to get feedback telling you how you can get better, and you're going to get right back in there and try again and again."
  2. You must finish what you start. Duckworth requires her kids to finish a season, a set of lessons that were signed up for, etc.
  3. No one gets to pick the “hard thing” for anyone else, so your child chooses their own challenge.

This is a rule your whole family can follow, holding each other accountable, and setting an example for your child. The “hard thing” can be an instrument, a sport, a subject or area of interest, an activity, and so on.

The “Hard Thing Rule” combines passion (because you choose what to pursue) and perseverance (because you promise to stick with it), and your child will experience success or improvement with something challenging. This will build theirconfidence and teach them the benefits of grit.

8. Try the “Grit Pie” Exercise

This activity will work best with an older child, but a young child could complete it with guidance.

Amy Lyon, a fifth-grade teacher from New Hampshire, created an entire grit curriculum based on the book The Optimistic Child by Martin Seligman, University of Pennsylvania professor and co-founder of Positive Psychology. Lyon uses the “grit pie” activity with her students to teach optimism and help them become aware of their thoughts.

The pie represents an obstacle the student is facing. Each slice of pie symbolizes a cause of the problem. For each slice, students analyze whether their thoughts about the problem are permanent (“I’ll never be good at math”) or temporary (“My friend was talking too much and distracting me”) and whether they blame themselves (“I should have asked the teacher for help when I didn’t understand”) or others (“The teacher didn’t teach us this material!”).

Hopefully, most of your child’s problems will be categorized as “temporary” and they'll take at least some responsibility for causing the problem.

Point out these issues are temporary and within your child’s control. How can your child make positive changes to resolve them? Completing this activity will show your child the majority of obstacles can be overcome with problem-solving and perseverance.

9. Share Your Passions

Lastly, you can inspire your child to find hobbies and intereststhey're passionate about by enthusiastically sharing your own passions.

Show your child your excitement about activities outside of working and parenting and devote time to developing these passions. Not only will this make you happier and more fulfilled, but it’ll also set a great example for your child about pursuing your passions.

This will also encourage your child to openly share their own passions with you. Be supportive and interested in whatever your child is passionate about, and provide resources to help them explore and develop these interests.

(Video) 9 great phrases to teach resilience to your kids!

Looking for additional resources to support building grit and resilience in your child? The Build Your Frustration Tolerance Masterclass is a self-paced growth mindset parenting masterclass where you'll learn how to help your child push ahead and persevere instead of quitting or giving up at the slightest setback. You'll get lifetime access so you can go through all the materials at your own pace. Our expert parenting educators will give you specific tools and strategies to raise a child who has theCONFIDENCE AND DETERMINATIONto overcome their frustration and persevere.


What activities can support resilience in children? ›

10 tips for building resilience in children and teens
  • Make connections. ...
  • Help your child by having them help others. ...
  • Maintain a daily routine. ...
  • Take a break. ...
  • Teach your child self-care. ...
  • Move toward your goals. ...
  • Nurture a positive self-view. ...
  • Keep things in perspective and maintain a hopeful outlook.
26 Aug 2020

How do you build resilience and grit? ›

5 Quick Tips to Develop Grit and Resilience
  1. Focus on Your Language Choice. The language you use when praising a co-worker, child, or spouse affects grit and resilience. ...
  2. Surround Yourself with Positive People. ...
  3. Adopt Flexible Thinking Patterns. ...
  4. Set Goals That Align with Your Purpose. ...
  5. Build Time into Your Day for Reflection.
7 Jul 2016

What are 5 ways to build resilience in children? ›

5 Ways to Build Resilience in Students
  1. Set Brave Goals. ...
  2. Model Learning from Mistakes. ...
  3. Encourage Responsible Risks. ...
  4. Label Difficult Emotions. ...
  5. Write and Talk About Setbacks and Human Resilience.
26 Mar 2021

What are some resilience activities? ›

Spend 10 minutes each day for 7 days on the following team resilience activities:
  • Write down three of the funniest things you have experienced, seen, or heard that day. Note how they made you feel.
  • Write down why you found it funny. ...
  • Write these three funny things at the end of your day.
21 Apr 2022

What is resilience activity? ›

Resilience activities are ways we can develop it like a muscle, as it needs to be worked in order to get stronger. Through activity, these skills can be developed through small, incremental wins. It is the habits that form the foundation of our mental beliefs that matter when the going gets tough.

What are the 7 resilience skills? ›

Dr Ginsburg, child paediatrician and human development expert, proposes that there are 7 integral and interrelated components that make up being resilient – competence, confidence, connection, character, contribution, coping and control.

What is grit and resilience? ›

Grit is about sustained, consistent effort toward a goal even when we struggle, falter, or temporarily fail. Resilience is our ability to bounce back after we have struggled, faltered, or failed.

How do you build resilience activities? ›

Emotional Resilience Exercises
  1. Manage anxiety with paced breathing. “Take a minute a day to focus on your breath,” Dr. ...
  2. Resist “thinking traps” Thinking about our thinking is important in times of uncertainty. ...
  3. Keep a gratitude journal. ...
  4. Engage in behavioral activation. ...
  5. Monitor device usage and news intake.

How do you build resilience in school kids? ›

Five ways to build resilience in students
  1. Promote positive emotions. Nowadays, for various complex reasons – not least the global pandemic – more students are suffering from bouts of anxiety and stress. ...
  2. Teach the importance of health and wellbeing. ...
  3. Encourage goal setting. ...
  4. Develop problem solving skills. ...
  5. Practise gratitude.
25 Feb 2021

How do you build resilience? ›

Tips to improve your resilience
  1. Get connected. Building strong, positive relationships with loved ones and friends can provide you with needed support, guidance and acceptance in good and bad times. ...
  2. Make every day meaningful. ...
  3. Learn from experience. ...
  4. Remain hopeful. ...
  5. Take care of yourself. ...
  6. Be proactive.

How do you build resilience in children Eyfs? ›

  1. Building relationships.
  2. Role-modelling.
  3. Keep a stress-free environment.
  4. Support self-regulation.
  5. Acknowledge emotions.
  6. Help to understand change.
  7. Allow children to problem-solve.
  8. Choose your words carefully.
20 Jun 2022


1. Help Children Build Resilience: Video #1
(Jenny Hoskins)
2. Using Grit to succeed in school
(Grant and rave)
3. Three Ways to Build a Resilient Child
(Courtney Clark)
4. Resilient Kids - Build grit so they never give up
5. Grit For Kids: (Angela Duckworth 5 Tips For Parents)
6. Building Grit and Resilience
(Teacher Rose Anne V.P. TV)
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