Skip to main content

Overdoing Grit?

by Jim O'Kelley, Director
Elks National Foundation

Early last summer, my mother-in-law, who watches the kids two days a week, took Patrick, the 3-year-old, to a reading at our local library. While there, Pack (that's what we call him) did something to earn her praise.

Admittedly, that's not hard. She is a grandmother. Nevertheless, she was impressed and showed it by saying, "Good job!"

That simple, seemingly innocuous phrase earned the instructor's condemnation. The woman swooped in, her finger wagging.

"You shouldn't tell a child 'good job,'" she chastised. "It sets them up for a lifetime of seeking affirmation and praise."

"Well, then what am I supposed to say?" asked my incredulous mother-in-law.

"You should say, 'You worked hard, and you did it,'" the woman answered.

We all had a good laugh later that day when my mother-in-law recounted the story.

A funny thing happened when I started praising Patrick for hard work.

A few days later, I found myself at the playground with Pack. He performed some feat and looked to me for approval. I started to tell him 'good job' but caught myself and instead said, "Hey, you worked hard, and you did it!"

It felt funny to say, but a funnier thing happened. Patrick took an even bolder risk. When he successfully completed that, I again said, "You worked hard, and you did it," which prompted another, even bolder attempt. These weren't the kinds of risks that cause parents to hold their breath, but he definitely was challenging himself on the playground.

The loony instructor at the local library appeared to be on to something.

Today, I'm much more familiar with the grit movement -- her advice was an extension of it -- and if you've been paying attention to this space, you know I've become something of a champion for it. Developing gritty kids is important for their future success.

But so is balance.

We still tell Patrick 'Good job,' because, well, because we're not out of our minds. But when he accomplishes something we've encouraged him to figure out for himself, we're just as quick to say, "You worked hard, and you did it!"

Striking the right balance isn't always easy for parents, though. The other day, Meghan was driving the kids somewhere, and Patrick said from the backseat, "Mommy, I worked hard, and I did it!"

"What did you do, Honey?" she asked.

Patrick held up his water bottle. "I took a drink of water."

Oh well, at least she didn't praise him for that.

To check out my series on grit, click on the label #TrueGritTuesdays in the green box below.

Comments

Labels

Show more

Popular posts from this blog

Finding a Place in the #ElksFamily

by Aleah Hahn, Most Valuable Student Scholar Aleah Hahn received a second place Most Valuable Student scholarship in 2018. She graduated from Michigan State University in 2021 with degrees in Biosystem Engineering and German. She is pursuing her master’s degree in Marine Resource Management at Oregon State. In her free time, she likes to cycle, forage and hike. Over my spring break I was able to partake in the 2022 Spring Elks Scholar Service Trip in Chicago! In 2018, I attended the 150 for 150 Service Trip in San Antonio, where we celebrated the Elks 150th anniversary through service. Both were amazing experiences to serve in the name of the Elks. They were alike but also different in many ways.  In San Antonio, I connected with Elks state leadership from my home state of Michigan since the trip was at the Elks National Convention!  I served with 149 other scholars and met many of them. It was a great opportunity to connect with other scholars. The majority of our service was at Haven

What is Zoom?

by Jim O'Kelley Director, Elks National Foundation Zoom--It's like the Brady Bunch , but without Jan. (This is the first in a series of articles about the need for Lodges to be relevant during the pandemic. To find all posts in the series, click here: #StaySafeBeRelevant .) Every crisis seems to have its breakout star. This one has two, so far—Dr. Fauci and Zoom. If you’re not familiar, Zoom is a remote video-conferencing tool with a free basic package. In these days of social distancing and sheltering in place, Zoom is also a godsend. At the O’Kelley household today, we had three concurrent Zoom meetings going on at one point—Meghan, me, and Jane with her Panda Room preschool pals. In our new teleworking reality, the ENF staff has been using Zoom through Microsoft Teams for check-ins, standing meetings and impromptu discussions. These conferences have helped us stay connected and feel like we’re part of a team despite our isolation. A couple of we

Where has the SAB Bean? Chicago!

by Colleen Conrad, Scholarships Manager The Elks Scholar Advisory Board (SAB) is a group of Elks scholars—current and alumni—who advise the ENF on its scholar relation efforts. When I presented the idea of getting together in Chicago for our first in-person Scholar Advisory Board meeting in two years, I was prepared for some trepidation. It goes without saying that the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench in traveling and gathering for everyone, and finding time during the busy fall semester for our scholars is always difficult. However, the response I received from our SAB was an overwhelming, enthusiastic “yes!”  That enthusiasm never dissipated throughout our whirlwind SAB weekend together at the start of November. Eight of the 10 2021-22 SAB members visited the Elks National Memorial and Headquarters, participated in some fun bonding activities, explored Chicago, and of course, put in some real work during the day-long board meeting. “While I’ve never been to an in-person SAB me