To be… or not to be (gritty)

Author: Patrick Baker  • 
There is a lot written about the current generation of children. Some argue they are the most emotionally fragile era of children to date. Others claim that “kids these days” have it so easy and don’t have a concept of hard work. In the education-sphere, terms like ‘rigor’ and ‘grit’ fill the landscape on what our kids “really need.”
Wherever you are on the spectrum of these generalizations or stereotypes, there is truth in all of these statements. There is also much for us (older folks) to learn from this generation. Modern students are exceptionally creative, they naturally work well in groups, and they are generally more accepting of differences than generations that have come before them.
It is also true that we are asking more of students than before.
In addition to academics, athletics, and off campus engagements (which are not altogether different from other decades), modern students are forced to deal with bombardment of digital information. Whether it’s a Snapchat, emails from friends or teachers, or how to navigate a seemingly hurtful text or link to an inappropriate photo, their emotional state may, in fact, be tested more so than when we were children. It is also true that more students in this era are over-scheduled, and their parents buy into narratives of it being necessary to either focus on or specialize in certain areas at too early an age.
If you subscribe to the statement that “Emotional skills are the bedrock of grit and resilience” we owe it to this generation to equip them with the tools to be resilient. Yetas parents, we have a natural and right tendency to protect and deflect. As this article suggests, however, learning to handle negative emotions is critical for children, but parents tend to teach avoidance rather than acceptance.
So if our children are in need of some emotional toughness, how does a school help them? How do we, as parents, help them?  In this article, the author suggests some great tips which boil down to four key mantras:
feel it, show it, label it, watch it go.
In the end, the concepts of both emotional agility and emotional fragility are important for us to understand. We must help our children navigate a world filled with emotion, some of which is even staged for our entertainment. But we must also remember that emotional intelligence (how to relate and understand the feelings and perspectives of others) is equally as important a skill to hone.

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