Listening the first time – A lesson in persistence

An ongoing goal in our household is to get the kids to listen the first time. Let me rephrase that.  Listen and DO what is asked the first time.   I thought it was just me being crazy in this expectation but then I get our weekly letter from one of my kid’s teachers.  Part of the letter read, “We are working together, listening the FIRST TIME ASKED (for the most part), following directions and getting so much accomplished.”  So it’s not just me.  Wanting your kids to listen and do what is asked the first time is a legitimate expectation.  An expectation that I have been failing at!  My goodness, why can’t they listen the first time??  Whether it’s putting their socks away, putting their homework in their backpack, or brushing their teeth before bed, I feel like it goes in one ear and out the other.  Then, after they ignore what was asked the first time I sound like a broken record by saying, “What did I JUST say?”

So I really am trying to practice the traits of grit by learning from my mistakes on this issue but I am running on empty. If you have some great tips out there to help me make progress on this goal in my household I will be forever grateful!  In the meantime, here is a great article that reminds us as parents that in order to raise gritty kids we too need to work being grittier.

‘We Need to Be Gritty About Getting Our Kids Grittier’

Eleanor BarkhornSep 25 2013, 1:48 PM ET


The word “grit” is ubiquitous in education today. It’s in the subtitle of New York Times contributing writer Paul Tough’s latest book, How Children SucceedIt’s one of the seven character traits (along with “zest,” “gratitude,” and others) that KIPP charter schools try to instill in their students. Tufts and DePaul University look for it when evaluating applicants. Like many buzzwords, “grit” doesn’t have a straightforward definition, but the Chronicle of Higher Education‘s description is a good place to start: “the habit of overcoming challenges, of learning from mistakes instead of being defeated by them.”

Today, the MacArthur Foundation announced that it’s awarding a “genius grant” to one of grit’s biggest champions: Angela Duckworth. An associate professor of psychology at University of Pennsylvania, Duckworth studies the personality traits that lead to success in the classroom and in life. According to MacArthur’s description of her work:

Duckworth’s work primarily examines two traits that she demonstrates predict success in life: grit—the tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward long-term goals—and self-control—the voluntary regulation of behavioral, emotional, and attentional impulses. A major difference between the two qualities is that grit equips individuals to pursue especially challenging aims over years and even decades, while self-control operates at a more micro timescale in the battle against what could be referred to as “hourly temptations.”

In her early work, Duckworth and colleagues devised empirical measures of grit and self-control in both children and adults and established their predictive validity for a number of dimensions of success. They found that these traits predict objectively measured success outcomes, even when controlling for cognitive ability.

Here’s a TED talk Duckworth gave earlier this year describing when she first realized the importance of grit, and what she sees as the next phase of grit studies: figuring out how to increase a person’s grittiness.

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