“Yes, you can do it!” “Don’t give up my child!” “Keep going!”
There wont be a parent who may have not said these time-tested encouraging words to their children as they tried to take their first step or learned to use the potty. Kids have to face challenges every day, either big or small, but according to a research, the ability of a child to achieve tasks and goals largely depend on their level of perseverance, i.e. on their ability to stick with tough tasks. In a series of studies conducted across different fields like medicine, music and sports, researchers were able to discover that an individual’s achievements are more closely linked with their dedication, discipline and drive over talents.
So if you are raising a child who very easily gets frustrated and constantly tells you that “he can’t”, this could mean giving your child the most valuable lesson of their life about not giving up, ever, in their lives. If you want to teach your child how not to quit, this is something that you need to start inculcating in them at an early age. And remember, it’s more about nurture over nature when it comes to determining how far your child would go with their career and goals. And well, it’s true that you can’t change the temperament of a person, but teaching your kids to push themselves beyond what they could do is what’s going to change “I can’t” into “I did it!”
What is parents’ role during their kids’ school years?
As we aforementioned, parents have to start early to ensure that their kids make it beyond what they believe they can.
- Don’t be an obsessive cheerleader
While it’s necessary to dole out kudos to your kids for their good habits, it’s also important that you aren’t boosting their ego by doing so. There is a thin line between appreciation and telling your child that they are the best. Try not to turn your children into praise addicts who would constantly need to feed onto someone’s praise to achieve something.
In another research by Carol S. Dweck, a Ph.D. psychology professor at Stanford University, he explains how kids who are always commended for their work tend to end up falling apart if something goes even slightly not as planned. Whereas, kids who are told that “You could have done better by working really hard”, they are more likely to persevere and would equate hard work with their success.
Most of us parents are over-praising our kids and that’s why they are turning into addicts who constantly need someone to pat on their back. Parents, however, forget to tell their kids that they won’t be there with them all the time; they can’t be there in the exam hall with them, or when they are about to run for a race. We need to say those things to our kids that will help them grow into a better person, and this could only be done by praising in a way that would positively reinforce their behavior. For instance, if your child got a good score on their test, you have to tell them that they need to do even better next time, rather than just telling them that they are the best, and they can do it every time.
But there is a better way to express your motivation. For instance, if your daughter comes up to you with some painting, instead of saying that she is an amazing artist, tell her something like this: “I can see you have put a lot of hard work into making this drawing”. Or when you want to appreciate your son for his basketball skills, try not not to tell him that he is the best; rather, focus on more positive words like, “I can see that your hours of practice and hard work is paying off.”
Breakdown goals for them
If your child is planning to execute a difficult task (like learning to ice-skate, or being on the cheerleading team), give them a game plan that they can follow to achieve their goals. Kids can’t breakdown their goals and it’s difficult for them to track their own performance, so if you can help them with a step-by-step guide, it would turn easier for them to achieve it. For instance, if your child is solving a tricky puzzle, you could help them breakdown the steps, like you could tell them to first find all the corners, and then pick out all the edges, and finally sort the pieces by color to fill the puzzle from the edges.
For example, if you want your daughters to master rope jumping, tell them the different etiquettes of rope skipping. Like you can tell them to practice for a certain time period, and to jump in slow motion. You can use the same approach to teach your kids almost every other thing that you want to teach your child. If you want them to learn to count to 10, teach them to first learn to count to 3 or 5. This would also help your child if they are easily frustrated. If they are going to come across something they they find difficult to perform, they would easily quit, but by breaking down the same task, they will feel more relaxed.
Because how we define success and failure, it has been preventing individuals from trying something that may have a lower probability of success. For example, your child may never prepare for a difficult exam, believing they aren’t going to do great with it.
Therefore, it’s your responsibility as parents to explain how failing sometimes is an essential learning curve. So if your child is trying to spell words or learning to ski, tell them that it’s important to keep trying, because the only failure is not to try, again.
If you are finding it difficult to reinforce this positive mindset of retrying, you could also take help from children’s literature that’s full of inspiring stories. However, this is another challenge as kids hardly read nowadays. But if you are able prevail technology limits in your home, and encourage them to substitute their digital time with reading, your child could gain a lot of optimism.
If you are tired of your children shying away from competitive activities due to the fear of failing, you could rather give our tried-and-tested technique. What you could do is it to have games as a part of their daily routine, and call it “win or lose contest”. When kids would learn to win or lose on a daily basis, they will be able to condition themselves for other challenges. Give your children a frequent dose of victory and defeat which really cuts down on the stakes. Kids will learn that both success and failures are part of life and it’s not possible for anyone to be victorious every time.
Unless your kids have the passion for doing the best, they won’t be able to pull off something with their full potential. This would require you inculcate some consuming interest in your kids, whether it’s about pirates, princesses, dinosaurs, animals or anything else. You might feel like that your kids are getting obsessive over their hobbies and this might force you to tone them down, but we would suggest you to never do that. If your kids are getting passionate about something, let them be. This same flare and passion could then be used to fuel a child’s curiosity for learning other things.
For example, my 9-year-old daughter, just in a few months, transformed from a disinterested reader to an avid and flourishing bookworm. And this was made possible just by giving her the right subject matter that interested her.
To help your child discover their new passion, it’s important for you to expose them to new and varying experiences. You can take them to zoos, libraries, historic places and museums. If your child shows interest, help them get on the bandwagon.
Let them remember their past success
What we just said above is what we are going to follow up on here. The simple principal of not giving up is that it’s transferrable. So whether it’s some dancing or Lego-building competition that your child has won or something else, they will gain the confidence that they can do it again if they were able to do it in the past. Let them learn from their past success, but don’t let them obsess over it. Remember that if your child was able to achieve something effortlessly, it might encourage them not to try hard in the future too. So make sure that you praise your child only when you know that they have worked hard.
The next time your child gets ready for some challenge, let them reminiscence their past triumphs. So when your child feels frustrated from their mistakes while playing guitar, you could remind them about how it took hours of practice for them to be a good basketball player.
You have to be their role model
It all gets down to the parents in the end. If there are values that you want to inculcate into your child, make sure you mean them too. If something doesn’t go right in your life as you had planned, stay on the same line of perseverance that you want your child to stay on. Show your children that it takes energy and effort to achieve something. So if you are a musician and your kids are also practicing music, let them see the hard work that’s involved with producing a masterpiece. It’s easy to lecture about patients and persistence, but there is no need of saying all that unless you are going to exemplify through your own actions.
Remember that it’s not about winning always. The purpose of writing all this is not to prepare your child to be on the top; rather, it’s about realizing that your child might not achieve a few things that you want them to achieve in their life. Stay away from forcing your own aspirations or career paths onto them.
Whatever we have talked about in this read, it’s a lot of compromise on the parents’ end. If you are telling your child that it’s all right if they are going to fail, but at least they tried, you have to mean it. Your contentment needs to show up on your face when you are going to tell them that “It’s all right, you tried and that’s what I wanted you to do.” It’s difficult, we understand and every parent has expectations from their kids, but if you want your child to excel at their life, you have to support them always for trying. And with the right attitude, you could reinforce success in their path.
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