Perseverance may determine our chances of success more than any other single characteristic, says Lynne Arbuckle, primary school principal at Burgundy Estate’s Riverside College. “Perseverance is an important trait to develop in your children; as your child gets older, life will throw them multiple challenges and if they’ve never been taught how to stand their ground through adversity, life itself will just get tougher and tougher,” she says.
Perseverance is learnt by having to battle through something that is difficult for a long time until it is mastered. “With exams just around the corner, our learners are faced with the daily decision on how to cope with the stress that comes alongside this. The life skills learnt through the process of studying and exam preparation are multiple, it goes beyond just being equipped with knowledge on a particular subject.”
Perseverance is different for every learner – for some it’s the daily challenges of school, for others its sport and for some it might be making friends. “Each child is different. We provide the nurture and care at Riverside College but also stand back and allow our children to learn for themselves, ultimately we are equipping them for real life,” says Arbuckle.
How to master the art of perseverance with your children
Practice makes perfect
Many kids worry that they aren’t good enough, which makes them give up easily. Help your child understand that no one becomes accomplished overnight. All experts have worked for years to accomplish excellence in their field. Encourage effort and practice, more than accomplishment.
Recognise and point it out when your child works at something, regardless of the result. Cheer when they don’t give up, applaud their persistence.
Aim your child at a door, not a wall
If you have the kind of child who never gives up, she may routinely beat her head against the wall (or make you want to beat yours.) To avoid that, teach her to look for the openings.
Let him grieve
Persistent kids have big feelings. They will pass sooner if you acknowledge, with empathy, what he wants and why he wants it, and at the same time set firm limits. He may erupt, but that’s a good thing; if you can stay understanding, he’ll show you his disappointment and learn the resilience to survive disappointments in the future.
Offer emotional support
If your child wants to quit three weeks into the dance class, listen to why. Maybe it just isn’t what she thought it would be and she’d rather do soccer than ballet. That’s fine; part of finding our passions is to experiment. But if she wants to quit everything she starts, then something is getting in her way, and that something is almost certainly fear. She needs your help to work through her fear, or it will begin to pervade other areas of her life, and you’ll find her shrinking back from trying new things in general.
Show your child how a person can set out to master something and move through setbacks to do so. Talk about your feelings as you do it. “I tried it this way. That didn’t work. Now I am going to try it that way. I’m not going to give up that easily.”
Teach your child to take a break
Teach your child to monitor his mood and take a break when he needs to. Sooner or later, he’ll make a break-through, and it’s not a bad idea to stop before he gets too frustrated.