How Children Succeed

This evening I listened to a fabulous recording of Dan Pink, best-selling author of Drive, interviewing Paul Tough, author of the best-seller How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character.

The topic of the interview is–not surprisingly–Tough’s new book which deep-dives into the commonly-held belief that IQ is the major predictor of success in kids. So much of our educational system in 2012 is based on this score, that score, and of course of IQ scores.

Tough examines other important predictors of success that are NOT innate, that CAN be taught to parents in order for them to in turn teach to their children. Character strengths are what Tough calls a group of traits which include:

grit, determination, curiosity, optimism, persistence, self-control, and initiative.

Grit is basically defined as stick-to-itiveness and having long-term goals that you believe in and work towards.

If you are curious about how much grit YOU have, personally, here is a link where you can take a peek at a 12-question grit test, take it yourself, and score yourself. It’s fun and revealing. Click here for the Grit Test.

If you take the grit test, come back and tell me you score! 🙂 Maybe I’ll tell you mine.

I’ve just purchased Tough’s book from, so I will be blogging more about it once I get my hands on my own copy. But here’s why I’m so excited after listening to Pink’s interview with Tough: they are talking about and emphasizing many, if not all, of the principles of parenting that I discuss in my new book, The Self-Propelled Advantage.

Paul was asked a question about what parents can do to help their children develop these core character traits, and do you know what he said?

Do Less.

Let them learn to handle their lives without constant intervention.

Don’t be a helicopter parent.

Sound familiar?

Here’s the other major takeaway from this broadcast: Attachment to parents especially within a child’s first two years is extremely important as a predictor of success. Close relationships with parents and siblings is extremely important to children as a predictor of success.

If you’ve read my book, I cite a 2003 study of perfect SAT scorers by Dr. Tom Fischgrund. He studied the families of 160 students who scored perfectly on the 2003 SAT, and he studied the students themselves. He learned that 90% of these perfect score students came from “intact” households, meaning neither parent had been divorced. I think that stat alone talks illustrates the importance of relationships in a child’s life. (SAT Perfect Score: 7 Secrets to Raise Your Score)

How do children succeed? The ways may not be as varied and random as we’ve thought previously.

If you’d like to hear the interview I’ve just listened to, click Here.


About the Author

Joanne Calderwood has been called America’s Homeschool Mom. She is an underwhelmed Mom of eight great kids, owner of, and an author and columnist. Her new book, The Self-Propelled Advantage: The Parent’s Guide to Raising Independent, Motivated Kids Who Learn with Excellence, enables parents to teach their kids to teach themselves with excellence.


2 Responses to How Children Succeed

  1. Ken Mueller says:

    I’ve got a grit score of 44…

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