One thing that I sometimes see in class that concerns me, is when a child gets upset when they can’t do something. I will look at this in more detail in my blog on: Indomitable Spirit, but in relation to perseverance, kids sometimes just give up too easily. I think that there are various reasons for this.
Firstly, I think that it’s us parents who can sometimes be to blame (yes, again – slap wrists!). We know how important it is for us to set our children high standards to achieve. We know that expectation is key to our child’s success. However, if our children feel unable to reach these high standards, it can make them anxious and the easiest route for them to take then, in order to stop this anxiety, is to give up. This is where the importance of achievable goals comes in to play. Something that they need to work at, but that they can see is possible. Then, as they develop and mature, those goals can become slightly harder to achieve, thus developing their determination and grit. This is where the belt system within a martial art is so clever, as each belt level pushes the student that little bit further each time. They learn how to persevere.
Another reason that I think kids give up too easily is that there is always something easier that they can do, like play a crappy game on the iPad (yup, blaming technology again). However, as parents we shouldn’t just let our kids quit. If a child says to us that they want to stop doing something, we need to ask them why and then tell them that they are going to contnue with it for a little longer. Kids need to be taught that quitting is harder than persevering and not the other way around.
Sometimes as parents, we give too much praise for too little: oh my god sweetie, you can lie face down on your tummy – you are the best! No, they aren’t, they are no better than any other 3 year old who can lie flat face down. If you over praise this then they expect praise for every little thing that they do – you’ll be exhausted and they will be constantly seeking your attention and approval. Kids need to know that sometimes they haven’t quite yet mastered something, but need to be given lots of encouragement to keep trying.
On the flip side to this, there are parents who make their children feel that whatever they achieve it is never enough. This is just as detrimental to developing their perseverance as the parent who is too quick to praise. The child will end up giving up trying if the end goal seems too remote.
What we need to instill in our kids is determination and with just enough praise and just the right goals, they will soon learn how to persevere and then we can take that photo of them with the face that says: I knew I could.