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

Grit involves sticking with something until you succeed. It’s another word for perseverance or 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 and view failure as part of the learning process. At age four, grit might look like working on increasingly complex block structures, crafts, or puzzles; learning their letters and numbers, and remembering to use their words and strategies when they feel frustrated. 

How to support your child's developing perseverance skills:

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."

Team Challenges

Playing cooperative games such as 'Elbow to Elbow' or 'Crossover' can help your child develop perseverance and give your child practice working together as a team to achieve success.

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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. 

Go for the Goal!

Achieving a goal can build self-confidence. Help your child set and work towards a goal by creating "I Can" statements.

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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."

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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