Character Try, Try Again: Helping Your Three-Year-Old Develop Grit

Grit involves sticking with something until you succeed. It’s another word for perseverance and resilience, and it gives us the strength to try, try, try again. Grit supports a “growth mindset” ― a belief that our intelligence and skills can grow with effort.  Kids with a growth mindset thrive on challenges, show resilience in the face of obstacles, and view failure as part of the learning process. For a three-year-old, grit might look like learning how to dress themselves, working on a challenging puzzle, and remembering to use their words and strategies when they feel frustrated. 

Help your child develop grit and perseverance:

Use Process Praise

Process praise is descriptive and helps kids develop perseverance. Rather than simply saying, "Good work!" or "That's great!," share your specific observations about what your child is doing. This gives kids information about how they might act in the future. Process praise can be as simple as replacing "Good job" with "Good job sharing your toys." Here are a few more examples of what process praise sounds like:

  • "You are putting all the toys and books back in their bins. Thank you for being a helper."
  • "When your blocks fell down, you built your tower again!"
  • "Wow, you spent a lot of time figuring out how to put that puzzle together."

Embrace the Power of "Yet"

Every parent has heard a child utter in frustration, "I can't do it!" Help your child shift their perspective by adding the word "yet" to this phrase: "You can't do it yet. You are still learning how. Keep trying!" Adding the word "yet" helps remind kids that they are a work in progress — that every skill takes time and effort. 

Keep Trying! Create a “Tightrope” to Talk About Practice

Walking on a masking tape "tightrope" can help your child build confidence, concentration, and coordination while encouraging imagination through pretend play.

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Remind Kids of Their Successes

Research indicates that children who hear stories about how family members overcame obstacles are more resilient in the face of challenges. Similarly, you can remind children of their own stories of perseverance — specific moments when they worked hard to learn a new skill or stuck with a difficult challenge. For young kids, this might sound like, "I remember when you learned how to walk. Sometimes you would fall and cry -- but you kept trying and trying! That's how we learn. We try and try and try again."

Reflecting on Achievements with a “My Accomplishments” Book

Making a book of accomplishments can help your child see tasks and goals that have been completed and make new goals to add to the book in the future.

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Build Good Character Skills with Daniel Tiger

Through imagination, creativity and music, Daniel and his friends learn the key skills necessary for school and for life, using strategies grounded in the teachings of Mister Rogers.

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Activity Finder: Learn With Your Three-Year-Old

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