How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough is an interesting book on how parents can instill good lifelong habits in children early on. Tough believes that behavioral traits are solid predictors of performance over time.
For instance, traits like self-control, diligence and perseverance are better predictors of success in life than IQ alone. As such, the author shows parents how to work on these traits well before formal schooling.
Persistence and delayed gratification are key elements which are needed for young children to navigate the academic regimen to arrive at good career choices. The author provides many examples of how parents can develop these highly desired behavioral traits so that they become part of a child’s character much earlier in life.
The book shows how children brought up in stressful environments are at a high risk for repeating the mistakes of their parents. This is documented in the ACE study cited by Tough. As a result, more work is needed during the initial education experience in order to shield children from too much stress, engender strong character traits and help children deal with unstructured problem-solving by playing games like chess.
Tough believes that there are no shortcuts to success in raising children. Resilience, resourcefulness and true grit are important conditions precedent to success.
These traits measure a child’s ability to cope with failure, develop alternative strategies and arrive at alternate solution sets to life’s continuing challenges. The book points out that conscientiousness is a good predictor for desired outcomes like graduating college.
Tough points out that it’s the bodily reaction to stress rather than the stress itself that is most problematic for many people. In addition, mental contrasts or pictures are important to articulate choices among a plethora of alternatives.
The author explains that education opens doors for people by developing the IQ to the fullest potential. In practice, elements of the IQ are enhanced by continued hard work at solving unstructured problems and discussing issues with multi-dimensional implications and possibilities.
How Children Succeed by Paul Tough is an important educational resource on child development which every parent and educator should read. Educators need to read this book carefully because academic success has a considerable behavioral component which transcends what teachers teach in classrooms.