Helping teen clients build a grit team

By Caren Baruch-Feldman, PhD 

Part three of a three-part series on fostering grit in teen clients. Read parts one and two.

So far, I have suggested ways teens can grow their grit by focusing on changing themselves—their mind-set and behavior. As important as this internal work is, it’s equally important that teens build a community of grit—a grit team.

When I speak to teens, they often tell me that connections to other people are what helps them persevere in the face of obstacles. Here are some ideas and concepts you can share with your teen clients to encourage them to create a community of grit.

Find a Cheerleader and Accountability Partner

Research shows that having a charismatic adult—someone from whom we can gather strength—is key when coping with stress and building perseverance. This is because when we connect with others we have better attention, emotional regulation, and even immune function. Having an accountability partner—someone who gives you support and keeps you on track—can also be helpful when building grit.

Be a Cheerleader for Others

If you’re like most people, helping others enhances feelings of positivity—making it easier to be persistent, resilient, and gritty. In addition, helping others can work as a way to deflect from our own struggles: when we move our awareness to another person, our problems seem smaller and we’re able to gain a better sense of perspective.


Develop a Community of Grit

Gritty people don’t just have one person they can count on. They are surrounded by a community of grit—a place where individuals come together to motivate and ignite each other’s passions and purpose. For both good and bad, we have a strong drive to conform to and imitate the behavior of others. So, when you surround yourself with gritty people, you’re more likely to be gritty yourself.

Remember, for teens to grow their grit, they need adults like you in their lives.  

Caren Baruch-Feldman, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and a certified school psychologist. She maintains a private practice in Scarsdale, NY, and works as a school psychologist in Harrison, NY. Baruch-Feldman has authored numerous articles and led workshops on topics such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques, helping children and adults cope with stress and worry, helping people change, and developing grit and self-control. She is a fellow and supervisor in rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT), a type of CBT.

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