On Developing Grit (Part 2 of 3)

Part 2: A Concern


Girls on the Run St. Louis, 11/16/13

Girls on the Run is a program designed to encourage development of positive self-image, camaraderie, and perseverance toward goals in pre-adolescent girls. The program, offered in 200+ cities throughout the U.S. and Canada, runs for 10-12 week sessions in an after-school format, culminating in a 5K run in each venue.

I love the concept and considered it a privilege to be able to participate with my friend Elizabeth in the St. Louis run (at a brisk walking pace) last month. The St. Louis event was a sight to behold: nearly 6,000 participants filled the streets, a giant pep rally of girls from ages 8-14. The level of organization and the spirit of the event were impressive.

As Elizabeth and I were chugging along, enjoying the scene of runners in their red shirts stretched out before us, a girl and her mother gradually overtook us. As they passed, we heard a bit of whimpering in a nine-year-old voice. And then the adult response, teeth obviously clenched, in a low growl: “Just suck it up.” 

Which leaves me wondering, as you might imagine. In our coaching of parents to give their children opportunities to endure some discomfort in order to learn and grow (the blessing of a skinned knee, so to speak), are we inadvertently asking already-anxious parents to manage one more thing?

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