An Introduction To GRIT

GRIT

Today, was the first open day for the public of the Singapore Maker Extravaganza at The Science Centre Singapore. Being science students ourselves, we reminisce naturally about the school projects, when we are apprised of such events.

Considering next 11 years of our son’s school life would be dedicated to learning, research and practice of science, it is imperative that he witnesses such events in person to have a fair understanding of the ‘action’.

Hence, we planned our trip to this day, and witnessed booths arranged by an array of stakeholders ranging from school children to polytechnics to engineers to entrepreneurs, aged 10 to 60 years. Their enthusiasm was much appreciated by the visitors who themselves were from all walks of life.

The theme of this year was, scientific innovations keeping in mind, The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. There were plenty of opportunities and science-based inventions to learn from, and projects that can help meet these goals. We could very well relate to the theme and ideas around it, since he has appropriately been introduced to them, both at home as well as in school.

In between all of this, there was a booth that was set up by a group of school children, that involved activities focused on building GRIT, as clearly shown by Dr Angela Duckworth in 2017, with Growth Mindset being the central element as illustrated by Dr Carol Dweck.

Now, being a Positive Parenting Educator, it was only fair for my child to have a hands-on of this activity. In simple terms, this was a board game with a track made of several blocks, and each block was a move based on a token throw. With each move there were written instructions to follow (obstacles), of which one of them was to keep waiting at a spot, for some good reasons as mentioned in them (testing endurance). And the objective of the game was to play till the end, to reach the finish line.

This game which seemed very quick and easy took around 40 minutes to complete, seeing this, I was reminded of a real-life incident that was shared by Positive Psychology instructor, coach, and trainer, Ms Jana Dawson. There was a moment in one of the tracks of a motor racer, Lyndon Poskitt (please watch from 45:53 to 49:00), inspiring enough for us to give goosebumps anytime we watch it.

At the end of the game, as a token of appreciation, Ivan received a GRIT medal by the organisers, to encourage his efforts and motivate him to keep using this as a strength to help him build a strong character.

While returning home in the MRT, Ivan asked me the meaning of GRIT. We were amazed to see how this simple game has created a sense of inquiry in him and to address this concept, and we started with the dictionary meaning of the word.

We further realised that this is an excellent opportunity to build more on it with real-life examples taken from both past and present, personal as well as evolutionary. Further, we also introduced him to work done by Dr Angela Duckworth at The Character Lab, in lucid language and suggested that there are many tiring journeys in life that test our patience and endurance, just like in today’s game.

As I am recounting the instances of this day, I realise again, that every day, there are sufficient times, which when viewed through the lens of flourishing ingredients, provide us pockets of opportunities to introduce to our children and empower them with thriving skills.

To sum up, as parents:

1. We need to recognise these opportunities,

2. Leverage on the immense scientific study available to our disposal to explain them in easy to understand language,

3. Substantiate with relevant personal examples, and

4. Reinforce them when children are faced with challenges in life, to encourage in their endeavours.

With Gratitude

Shajita

#GRIT #Endurance #Strength #StrengthBasedParenting #UnitedNations #SustainableDevelopmentGoals #SDG #Science #SingaporeScienceCentre #Mindset #GrowthMindset #PositiveEducation #PositiveParenting #PositiveParentingEducation #PositivePsychology #Evolution #Encourage #Endeavours #Thrive #Flourish #WellBeing #WellBeingOfAChild

Reference:

Park, D., Tsukayama, E., Goodwin, G.P., Patrick, S., Duckworth, A.L., 2017. A tripartite taxonomy of character: Evidence for intrapersonal, interpersonal, and intellectual competencies in children. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cedpsych.2016.08.001. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/306095610_A_Tripartite_Taxonomy_of_Character_Evidence_for_Intrapersonal_Interpersonal_and_Intellectual_Competencies_in_Children

Prevention of A Negative Emotional Contagion

Dear Friends, today, we are going to share a strategy around the less-discussed aspect of parenting. We are referring to the rare moments when children use emotionally inflicting words with parents, causing distress, that most likely ruins the mood of the family.

The usual way of handling such instances, considered to be an age-old, easy-to-go solution is corporal punishment, practised in many parts of the world (Gershoff, Grogan-Kaylor, Lansford, Chang, Zelli, Deater-Deckard, Dodge, 2010).

However, as parents – the well-wishers of our children, and their great role-models, we need to handle them in a dynamically shifted way. You may ask why so?

We wish to highlight that:

  • Plenty of studies are available to demonstrate that adopting corporal punishment may temporarily suppress the undesired behaviour of the child, but it has some unintended and potentially adverse effects on their psychology and everyday routine (Rohner, Kean, Cournoyer, 1991).

It also reminds us of a famous quote by Winston Churchill, “The price of greatness is responsibility”. The onus is thus on parents.

What happened?

The Case

This Sunday morning, our child was cribbing and using words that were not in good taste, my immediate amygdala response resulted in yelling at him and turning out of sight from the scene.

It is important to note here that his mother was with him, trying to calm him down, and this is a very crucial action. There is a significant reduction in the internalising as well as externalising problem of the child with the providence of other parent’s warmth (McKee, Roland, Coffelt, Olson, Forehand, Massari, Jones, Gaffney, Zens, 2007).

The Intervention

We want to thank the prefrontal cortex (Siddiqui, Chatterjee, Kumar, Goyal, 2008) and our practise of Mindfulness (Gouveia, Carona, Canavarro, Moreira, 2016) and Positive Psychology – both as a parent and community educator, that I perceived an emotional downward spiral day or days; an urgency to salvage the situation struck to me and almost instantly, a two-prong approach flashed through my mind:

  1. Working with his negativity to navigate from this zone
  2. Paving a way to build underused strengths

I. Working with his negativity

We talked to him the reasons for his feeling. We asked him to acknowledge this feeling, attribute an emotion with it, tag it navigate from this feeling to make more sense of our time and space. To help him do this, we started together the deep breathing exercise and focused at inflating the tummy while inhaling. Within a matter of few deep breaths, we were feeling to talk to each other now.

II. Paving a way to build underused strengths

We recently got done his Strength Profiler Survey, and it took us no time to identify this as the most appropriate time to introduce and educate him about the definitions and importance of the less used strengths, viz. Prudence and Self-Regulation. We explained how if he practices these, it will help him avoid situations that tend to drain energy from our body. And that to build this up, we need to practise it more often when faced with similar circumstances to make it a natural coping strategy (Waters, 2015).

The Outcome

We are delighted to share this with all of you that, there was a gradual and positive change in the dynamics of the entire family and within half an hour time, we were all back to our daily routine. It was followed by swimming time in the afternoon, a home cooked South Indian lunch, a stroll in the evening at Night Market, bedtime stories, and eventually going into slumber.

The Documentation

As I am documenting this entire day here in this blog, the time is 2:45 am SGT of 14 October, and what a relief, after preventing an emotional contagion!


We hope that you and your family may benefit from this experience.

With Gratitude

Shajita

References:

  1. Gershoff, A.T., Grogan-Kaylor, A., Lansford, J.E., Chang, L., Zelli, A., Deater-Deckard, K., Dodge, K.A., 2010. Parent Discipline Practices in an International Sample: Associations With Child Behaviors and Moderation by Perceived Normativeness. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2888480/
  2. Gouveia, M.J., Carona, C., Canavarro, M.C., Moreira, H., 2016. Self-Compassion and Dispositional Mindfulness Are Associated with Parenting Styles and Parenting Stress: the Mediating Role of Mindful Parenting. Retrieved from https://self-compassion.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Gouveia2016.pdf
  3. McKee, L., Roland, E., Coffelt, N., Olson, A.L., Forehand, R., Massari, C., Jones,D., Gaffney, C.A., Zens, M.S., 2007. Harsh Discipline and Child Problem Behaviors: The Roles of Positive Parenting and Gender. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Ardis_Olson/publication/227312033_Harsh_Discipline_and_Child_Problem_Behaviors_The_Roles_of_Positive_Parenting_and_Gender/links/55aeac6b08aed9b7dcdda4c0/Harsh-Discipline-and-Child-Problem-Behaviors-The-Roles-of-Positive-Parenting-and-Gender.pdf
  4. Patterson, G.R., Chamberlain, P., Reid, J.B., 1982. A comparative evaluation of a parent-training program. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S000578948280021X?via%3Dihub
  5. Rohner, R.P., Kean, K.J., Cournoyer, D.E., 1991. Effects of Corporal Punishment, Perceived Caretaker Warmth, and Cultural Beliefs on the Psychological Adjustment of Children in St. Kitts, West Indies. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Ronald_Rohner/publication/255729003_Effects_of_Corporal_Punishment_Perceived_Caretaker_Warmth_and_Cultural_Beliefs_on_the_Psychological_Adjustment_of_Children_in_St_Kitts_West_Indies/links/59553800aca272fbb379c944/Effects-of-Corporal-Punishment-Perceived-Caretaker-Warmth-and-Cultural-Beliefs-on-the-Psychological-Adjustment-of-Children-in-St-Kitts-West-Indies.pdf
  6. Siddiqui, S.V., Chatterjee, U., Kumar, D., Siddiqui, A., Goyal, N., 2008. Neuropsychology of Prefrontal Cortex. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2738354/
  7. Waters, L, 2015. The Relationship between Strength-Based Parenting with Children’s Stress Levels and Strength-Based Coping Approaches. Retrieved from https://www.academia.edu/12701922/The_Relationship_between_Strength-Based_Parenting_with_Children_s_Stress_Levels_and_Strength-Based_Coping_Approaches

Just Another Day of Optimal Strengths

As promised to all of you, am sharing another personal story of positive parenting with my son, that reflects and provides evidence that it is essential for a flourishing life, to approach with a Strength-Based Parenting in our children’s day-to-day life.

This week happens to be school holidays for our son. So, we packed our bags and headed to Sentosa, where this role play destination called Kidzania (Ivan’s favourite hangout place) is located. He enjoyed activities one after the other and was very happy.

Suddenly, I noticed that he is following one child and is engaging in activities which that child chooses. It is quite a natural behaviour among children, and I was glad that he had made friends with him so quickly. He also made good friends with an activity instructor at ‘Pizza Hut’ venue. I know that it gives him a sense of accomplishment with warm relationships that he shares with people.

However, after a few activities, I observed that his new friend was not giving any attention to Ivan’s attempts of talking to him and trying to be friends with him.

I could very well see that Ivan was about to feel a kneejerk on his emotions as his efforts were not reciprocated. Hence, I had no choice but to intervene and prevent his day from receiving an unnecessary setback. However, the challenge was to speak to him on his Strengths – Kindness, Love and Honesty.

I appreciated him of his efforts, and that he is displaying his genuine emotions with the child – Active Constructive Communication. And that how he is trying to behave in a direction towards a functional ingredient for the establishment and continuity of any relationship. And then, I reminded him of avoiding the over usage of his Strengths. Further, I gently educated him about the importance of reciprocation.

After hearing out to me, he took a deep breath and I could see a sense of affirmation in his eyes and almost instantly his friend, the Pizza Hut instructor passed by and she hugged him, talked to him and shared with me her name, Ivan’s story and experiences during the playtime of his activity. She told us that she was going for some paperwork on a different floor.

It was very kind of her to stay with us for around good 4 to 5 minutes and share that conversation. This instance got repeated another time when it was the closing time of Kidzania, where she and Ivan shared another 2 to 3 minutes in their conversation, before leaving for her home.

Well, after these two occurrences, I asked Ivan, whether he found his Strengths put to optimal utilisation today. And almost instantly he replied that he felt amazing while sharing his Strengths with the kind lady from Pizza Hut activity. He also responded that he did not feel this connection with any other instructor today.

We left that place and came back home happily, with a brimming smile on his face, not only that, we recounted the entire day at home, and I could see that he has learned so much today from an experience which if not handled with mindfulness and strengths can actually take an unwanted turn on emotions and be embedded for lifetime.

We are thankful to all people who are helping me in this journey of Positive Psychology, Strengths and Mindfulness. We will be grateful to you for any suggestions on improvement of our work through this blog.

With Gratitude

Shajita

#Positivepsychology #PositiveParenting #PositiveEducation #Mindfulness #Bonding #Blissful #Happiness #Relationships #CharacterStrengths #WellBeing #Happy #Realtionship#VUCA #StrengtBasedParenting #SBP

Family Art Activity for A Blissful Life

Recently, we have heard a lot of awareness being created for Mindfulness Psychology. We came across this term for the first time while studying Applied Positive Psychology at TSPP. At that time, we did not know much about the power of mindfulness.

However, it was only with the scaffolding of this module under the able guidance of a wonderful person, Ms Deborah Thurley, that we had a glimpse of this modern technique. This was furthered by attending workshops, conferences, TED talks, reading research papers.

A stir was further created in our minds when we realised its importance as a preventive strategy of mental health by listening to eminent people like Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn, Dr Itai Ivtzan, Dr Ruchika Prakash, Dr Julian Lim, and the like.

Drawing inspiration for this education and from that fact that it is blending so well with the Positive Psychology (Ivtzan et al., 2016), we have recently developed an easy to do Mindfulness Activity for the wellbeing of children.

We have created a “Family Mindfulness Pastel Colour Corner” in our living room. In this activity, we colour our thoughts on paper using pastel colour and follow the steps as outlined below:

1. Draw outlines of figures and objects, that come to our mind, using pastel colours

2. Spread them using different fingers for different colours

3. Make a scenery smudge to help it blend with the paper

4. Take turns to narrate our thoughts in a short story format

5. Appreciate each other for their thoughts

6. Cherish the moments of togetherness

As a family, we are able to do this activity mostly on weekends. However, we encourage our 5-year-old son, to do this regularly so that he can develop this as a habit of putting his thoughts on papers using colours.

As we evolved in this process, the most striking of all was the activity that we did last weekend. It helped all of us calm down with a feeling of satisfaction. As is evident in Ivan’s colouring (image with this article), he manages to create a smiling face inside a bond like structure with D, I, A at the corners representing Dadda, Ivan and Aprajita in the order.

Moreover, it created a sense of stronger familial bond and helped to raise levels of happiness amongst us, since then.

This in turn helps children identify and optimise the use of Strengths like Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence, Creativity, Gratitude, Humility, Love, and gradually with practice, as they start to experience a deeper meaning and power, they can be introduce to Spirituality.

The larger picture that we have in our mind is for him and all children to be benefitted with similar mindfulness exercises, and that they are able to take it forward in future as a “Therapeutic Tradition” and to share it as a practice with their friends and later on their future family to help them flourish.

We understand that to deal with the stress level in this VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) world, it is only appropriate to provide with them the right set of similar tools for their wellbeing.

With Hope & Gratitude

Shajita

#Positivepsychology #PositiveParenting #PositiveEducation #Mindfulness #Blend #Family #Bonding #Blissful #Happiness #Relationships #CharacterStrengths #WellBeing #Art #Happy #Tradition #VUCA #StrengtBasedParenting #SBP

The Wonders of a Strength Focused Life

Positive Impact of Strengths

A brief anecdote of talks between parents

During some of our recent interactions with parents, we hear them discuss about their child, complaining on ‘missing skills’, ‘not having talent’, and ‘which class to enroll’, ‘books to read’ to fix the gap. Well, as a Positive Psychology student, it becomes my responsibility to educate them in recognising the “Strengths” of their child.

In other words, I guide them through the process of focusing on “What is Good In The Child”, as opposed to the traditional process of fixing “The What Is Wrong/Bad In My Child”.

We read through The VIA Character Strengths, taken their survey and delved into the book, ‘The Power of Character Strengths‘. These exercises helped us, our friends and especially our 5-year-old son, in identifying the 24 Strengths.

These Strengths have been coded after a research-based exercise under the 6 virtues viz. Wisdom, Courage, Humanity, Justice, Temperance, and Transcendence (Seligman & Peterson, 2004).

When it comes to explaining to children, one possible way that comes to our mind is the one that we use for our son, Ivan. We mention to him about the toolbox we have in our home. That toolbox has many tools e.g. screwdriver, wrench, pliers, hammer, scissors, L-key, and the like. Whenever, we are faced with a situation, we do not waste our time complaining, instead we reach to our toolbox and pick the right one. And just like each tool has an intended purpose, similarly each of the 24 Character Strengths have a focused purpose to shape ourselves in the scenarios of our life. Now, it is important to mention here that we all have these Strengths and just like we know our tools’ inventory, and sharpen, polish or oil our tools for their longevity, similarly we need to know our tools (Strengths Spotting) and for our children. And for a flourishing life, we need to keep making use of them every now and then. Besides, we also need to be mindful of not overusing/underusing them.

Another analogy that strikes to us well is in the words of Dr Neal Mayerson, “Character Strengths are like facial features, each one of us has the same, but it is in the composition of these features that gives it a unique identity, and it is the composition of these strengths that gives us a unique character.”

It is with the help of these Strengths, we will be able to harness the true potential of our children and help them acquire new skills. We hope that the process becomes effortless for parents having known the Power of Character Strengths, through practice it spreads to many more families.

We are currently reading the book titled, “The Strength Switch” by Dr Lea Waters and aim to utilise the mechanisms that she has discussed in the book for children.

Following our reading and practice, we have recently developed a summary of the importance of these Strengths and the Positive Impact that they can have on an individual’s life and summed up into a picture with this article.

With Gratitude

Shajita

#PositivePsychology #Character #Strengths #Parenting #PositiveEducation #StrengthBasedParenting #Happiness #WellBeing #Flourish #Sustainable #Life #PositiveParenting

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