How To Teach Your Child Perseverance

2Oct2013

How To Teach Your Child Perseverance

 

 

 

 

 

Perseverance is described as steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement. 

Perseverance. Persistence. Tenacity. An unyielding holding on in a course of action. 

I think teaching perseverance is an important lesson for every child. It teaches them hard work. It teaches them that no matter how many times they fail or screw up, to get back up on that horse and keep trying. It teaches them satisfaction of a job well done and knowing the outcome they got was because they worked hard for it.

I haven't had a lot of experience persevering in my own life, though. 

When I was a child, my mom let me quit every single after school activity that I was in, at the drop of a hat when I didn't like it. Swimming lessons were too hard. Ice skating hurt my feet. Ballet *really hurt my feet. Girl Scouts got me dirty and wet, and getting each of those badges just seemed like too daunting of a task. I didn't want to practice to develop my skills.

This continued on into adulthood. I often don't finish projects I start. I often give up on mostly everything I try. From crafts, drawing and painting, to jobs and relationships. Even blogs. I've had 3 blogs before and I gave up on each of them.

 My problem is that whenever there's a little hard work involved, I get discouraged and just think "well what's the point? I'm just going to fail".

I realized that this was setting a bad example for my children and has spilled over into their lives.

My oldest quit Tae Kwon Do last year before ever even trying out for a yellow belt. They get frustrated easily when they are trying to do something as simple as make something out of Lego. They quit and ask me to do it for them {which I never do}.

I am determined now to stop this cycle. I have seen what perseverance, along with hard work, can accomplish. 

So what can you do to teach your children perseverance?

1. Plant words into their minds daily. Saying things like "you stuck with it and you did it!", "you tried this problem in a variety of ways, and found a way to make it work", "it can be frustrating not getting things the first time, but we stick with it and try again".

2. Don't let them quit every activity. This can be a tough one because what if their hearts really aren't in it anymore? Come to a compromise. When they signed up, they made a commitment usually for a specific amount of time. Swimming lessons are in levels, for example. Have them recommit to finishing that level, and then if they truly don't want to continue then they can stop.

3. Talk to your children about their goals. Having goals is a great way to be persistent. Teach them how to write down their goals, and help them break down their goals into necessary steps-a "to do list" if you will. Have them check off their steps as they go along so they can see how far they've come. This will help them feel accomplished, and make it easier for them to reach their goal.

4. Read books about or that deal with perseverance to your children. Some great books are:
Winners Never Quit by Mia Hamm
The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper
Oh The Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss
"I Can't" Said The Ant by Polly Cameron
Matilda by Roald Dahl

You can find a more detailed list of books at LibraryThing .

5. You have to stick with it too. I know how easy it is to give in when your child wants to quit. I've been there.  But it pays to stick to your guns. 

This past summer I put my 9 year old, Gavin, into Level 1 swimming lessons. 7 sessions over a 2-week period. He failed. He was devastated and defeated. I was actually happy he'd failed, for a couple of reasons. 1. He had never failed anything before. The schools nowadays seem not to do anything when children don't do their best. Gavin has "forgotten" his homework on numerous occasions, and nothing was done about it....no make-up work, no detention, he didn't even have to finish that actual homework! This was a good learning experience for him. 2. If the pool was going around passing every kid that took their lessons, just so the kid wouldn't get upset (like how it seems a lot of children's sports leagues have both teams win, there are no losers, just so the kids don't get upset....which is a whole other post in itself) then it could actually be dangerous. Swimming is a life skill and it needs to be taught properly, and if a child can't swim then they shouldn't pass.

 I had already signed him up and paid for Level 2, so I just switched it over to repeat Level 1 and signed him up for Level 2 to start in September. He was against it. He was so defeated that he wanted nothing to do with swimming. I almost gave in. But I remembered how my mom let me quit everything when I was a child, and how I had resolved not to be like that as well.

So again, he did his 7 lessons. And again, he failed. Failing Level 1 swimming lessons twice was a hard blow for him. I switched him Level 2 lessons to Level 1 and told him he would try again. 

And as before he was against it. Didn't want to go. Every day of his lessons he would tell me he didn't want to go, that he was just going to fail again. I told him to keep trying. 

So his last day came and he got his report card and.....he passed!!

And guess what? First thing he did was ask me if he can take Level 2.

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