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Parents' Corner

How to Encourage Persistence in Your Child

Posted by David Smith on Wed, Nov 07, 2018 @ 08:00 AM

Without a doubt, persistence can pay off – and so the question is how to effectively develop this trait in your child. In response, Parents.com developed a seven-step process to help your child learn how to set goals and then focus on achieving them.

To teach persistence, it’s useful to first find ways in which your child is already setting goals, perhaps by saving money to encourage persistencebuy a desired game. Then, reverse engineer the process with your child so that the individual steps behind the process become clearer to him or her, and also emphasize how good it feels to accomplish a goal. Then find ways to replicate the process, choosing small goals at first. 

Experts in this article suggest you allow your child to actually choose the goals and then you can help him or her to create a plan. That’s because your child is likely to work harder if he or she wants to achieve a particular goal. That said, listen for opportunities to help your child to achieve goals of interest to you, as well. For example, if your child expresses a wish to do well in the science fair, this is an excellent opportunity to work with him or her to list specific action steps and a practical timetable.

Model persistence, as well, sharing some of your own goals and then showing your child how you’re achieving them. Applaud your child’s success and also provide reality checks, as children may want to achieve a goal more quickly than is possible.

We encourage you to read the entire Parents.com article for even more specifics.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children also offers great insights, including to:

  • provide your child with multiple activities to challenge him or her, such as math games that offer numerous problem-solving avenues
  • not try to “fix” the problem yourself; your goal should be to build confidence in your child so that he or she can solve the problem – through persistence
  • offer guidance if you notice your child is becoming frustrated; an example they provide is to hold a puzzle board steady for your child and/or to suggest it might be interesting to see what happens if the puzzle piece was turned another way
  • continue to give your child positive feedback and encourage him or her to be persistent

We know,” the article reads, “that children who are not provided with challenging activities or who receive negative or harsh feedback tend to show less mastery motivation. The same holds true for children receiving praise like ‘You’re so smart’ and children whose environment is overly controlling.”

Finally, here is an article that describes how a particular college teacher will encourage persistence. His students are often the first in their families to attend college and usually have additional responsibilities beyond what’s typical for people in college, so he’s targeted methods to specifically help them.

To boost problem solving skills and teach persistence, he created games – and he sometimes rewards the losing team for their “grit and persistence. I praise their tenacity of their attempt.”

After the class plays a game, he reviews trouble spots and will prepare his students for tests by posing the following question: “If you were the teacher, what would you ask on a test?”

And, we’ll close with an interesting observation by this teacher: “Some students stay until the end knowing they will not pass. Why? Because they get it; for some, it may be their first realization of an exhilarating truth – learning has great intrinsic value.”

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