How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough

Summary

  1. The ‘cognitive solution’ is an understated but pervasive illusion that cognition is the most important factor in succeeding in life. This book argues that other skills such as persistence, curiosity, grit, self control, social skills, and delayed gratification are actually the building blocks for a successful life

Key Takeaways

  1. Stress, especially chronic stress, is extremely damaging mentally, emotionally, cognitively, and physically. Students to go through stress early on or showing to have greater chances of disease or risky behavior
  2. Stable relationships and attachments in the child’s early life is extremely important in their social, cognitive, and emotional development. High-quality parenting can go a long way in reducing the effects of stress and it’s downstream effects. Attachment theory shows that parent who respond quickly and sensitively raise independent and confident kids. Safe, secure, stable, nurturing, and sensitive relationships early on has important and long lasting impacts and benefits
  3. In the marshmallow test (a test showing short vs. long term gratification), they found that the students who are able to abstract the marshmallows and think of them as “fluffy clouds” instead of a delicious treats were able to hold off the longest and show the most self control.
  4. Motivation and volition are to central elements to self control
  5. The only way to grow and learn is to try something where you have a legitimate chance of failing and this is where most privileged families hurt their children. 
  6. Rules are metacognitive substitutes to will power. It is much easier and more effective to have a rule saying, “I will not eat donuts” than relying on will power 
  7. Habits and rules go a long way in predicting and controlling behavior. Good habits and positive rules make up for a lot
  8. The importance in believing in a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset cannot be overstated. If kids believe that intelligence, character, and behavior are malleable and within their control, it improves nearly every area of their life
  9. When raising a child, balance cognitive tasks and the social and character traits that have been discussed in this book. Help your child socialize successfully, be able to fail and get back up, and be there for them to support them and encourage them in tough times. Do not over protect your child, expose them to manageable stress to help them grow, and they will develop the resilience needed to be successful at life
  10. One of the best things you can do for a child give them a stable home relationship support and unconditional love

What I got out of it

  1. Character > Intelligence