I watched as 5-month-old Ava lay on her belly participating in “Tummy Time” in her classroom. I shook a rattle just out of reach calling gently to her. She began reaching for the rattle almost instinctively. I could see in her face she understood the challenge she faced: the toy, just out of reach, and her inability to easily move to get to it.
I noticed her legs kicking out of excitement. Eventually finding the floor underneath her feet she began to push. She scooched ever so slightly, but recognizing that success, I cheered her on, “You pushed with your legs, you can do it, Ava!” She smiled hearing her name and pushed again – this time harder. She reached with her arm, stretching as far as she could and finally achieved her goal, grasping the rattle in her hand.
Though brief, this child demonstrated perseverance and when it is cultivated, perseverance becomes the tenacity that helps a child continue to push through challenges to reach goals. In fact, according to numerous research studies, perseverance is the best indicator of the future success of children.
At Stepping Stone School, we recognize the value of perseverance and encourage growth in this area daily. Our Platinum Learning for Life™ curriculum is specially designed to provide developmentally appropriate activities for children of all ages. Each child is provided the support and care she needs to become confident and prepared for the future both socially and academically. To continue to teach perseverance at home, consider applying some of the following strategies:
- Resist Rescuing Immediately. Give children the chance to struggle, sometimes an extra moment or two is all they need to be successful in a situation. If needed, adjust the level of difficulty of a task without taking away the challenge completely.
- Regularly Encourage your Child to Try New Things. Most activities are not easy to do initially which is a valuable lesson for a child to learn. To encourage taking on a challenge, try new activities with your child or as a family. Studies show that infants as young as one year old were more likely to persist if they saw an adult persisting through a challenge. (Stringer, 2018).
- Teach Practical Problem-solving. Before a child becomes frustrated, help him think about another way to solve the problem. Helping him to learn to stop and think can often reveal a new or different way to reach the same goal.
- Practice Positive Sayings. Sometimes, when encountering a new situation, children are quick to give up, stating, “I can’t!” Help your child change his thinking by practicing statements like, “I can’t, YET!” If he is becoming frustrated, remind him of past successes and how he overcame challenges before so he can do it again. Often helping him change his negative statements into positive statements will help him to persevere a little longer.
- Remind them of their Successes. When children are reminded of past successes when they struggled, but persevered, they are often willing to keep with it a little longer. When they finally succeed in their current venture, you can praise their efforts and recognize their perseverance amid a challenge.
The ability to persevere is necessary for overcoming obstacles, navigating challenges, and meeting success each new day. By practicing these skills with your child, you are teaching him or her the key to perseverance and success later in life.