Perseverance is certainly a skill that’s hard to come by in youngsters. A lot of the time, because of their often limited attention span, they’re likely to move on pretty quickly! Saying this, it’s also one of the most important skills to have as a kid -- its basic definition is sticking at something despite certain difficulties getting in the way. Imagine the good that this could do your kid, as a preschooler and throughout the rest of his childhood years. Around the age of 4 to 5 is the perfect time to start developing certain skills. With perseverance, a jigsaw puzzle could turn into a problem-solving exercise. Sticking to swimming lessons could turn your little monkey into the next Olympic champion… or it could just help him make a few friends.
Read out loud. According to teacher and counselor Leah Davies in her article “Instilling Perseverance in Children” on Education World, reading is an ideal way to teach a little person about persevering. There are just so many different stories that contain morals of not quitting. Think about it -- "The Tortoise and the Hair" is the perfect tale of sticking to a task. The hard worker wins the race, despite being the slower of the two. Teaching a child that hard work always comes out ahead of talent is vital. Preschoolers can’t yet read by themselves, but there’s nothing they love more than being read to… and a lot of the time they take fiction more literally than adults do too!
Take the crayons out. Davies suggests that asking your little one to draw a time when he thinks he’s persevered is a fun way to develop his understanding of such an important quality. Once your children have come up with a drawing of their choice -- it could be a picture of your little girl holding a dance trophy, or your little boy having caught his first fish -- then ask them how they felt during this particular moment. Talk to him about certain emotions that achieving something by yourself is likely to bring about. Ask him, “Did you feel proud when you caught your first fish?” “Did it make you feel more able to do other stuff?”
Ask your child to identify certain heroes that might have influenced his or her life. If your little boy is a basketball fan, his hero might be Michael Jordan. Tell him that Michael Jordan became the best player in the world because he practiced every day since he was a little boy. Actually, young Michael was really short as a teenager; it was only until he left school that he grew so tall! In the same way, your little girl might have Hannah Montana pictures all over the wall -- tell her that Hannah had to work really hard to become a famous singer. When they can see a clear reason for their efforts, their motivation to try hard is bound to increase.
Build on interests. According to educational psychologist and Today show contributor Dr. Michele Borba, it is all about finding the activity that fascinates your little one, before making an effort to help him persevere. If you’re trying to help your daughter persevere in an activity she hates -- for example, gymnastics -- then you will never succeed. If you find the right interest, you’re sure to ignite the little one’s passion. Do you think Einstein would have made the same impact as a long-distance runner? Or a dancer?