Raising Persistent Children

October 16th, 2011 @   -  No Comments

Persistence is the determined and unshaken continuance at a task in spite of hardship or opposition. There are two elements to perseverance: time and effort. Persisting is not giving up a goal no matter how long it takes and how difficult it may get.  

Why is persistence important? 

Every successful person has faced hardships and obstacles before they succeeded. These obstacles are an integral part of success. Napoleon Hill said that “Every failure brings with it the seed of an equivalent success”. Every time we fail and try again, we get closer to the solution and closer to succeeding. People who succeed do not quit at the first sight of failure. They learn from their failures and keep going until they succeed. It is our failures that make us “experts”, because we learn not only what works but what does not work. So a big part of the success equation is persisting in the face of hardship, both in our professional and personal lives. People who do not persist will not reach their goals in life, because anything worth having is worth the hard work.  So how can we help our children develop persistence and obtain their goals in life?  

Believe in your child

If you do not believe in your child, it is not very likely that your child will believe in herself/himself.  

Express your confidence and belief in your child’s abilitie

When Calvin Klein was a child, his mother expressed to everyone who would listen how successful her child would be as a designer. It is reported that many parents of successful individuals predicted their children’s success from early on. This does not mean that these parents are clairvoyant. But their undeterred belief in their children’s abilities pushed the children into success.  

As you show your confidence in your child, your child’s confidence will grow. Confidence is crucial because your child will need it in the face of obstacles, ridicule and opposition..  

Discuss with your child where success comes from

This does not have to be a one-time formal discussion. It can be discussed in a relaxed setting whenever the opportunity presents itself. For example, if your child comments about how smart a classmate is, ask him/her why they think that person is smart and how they got to be that way. Ask them if it is possible for them to also be smart like their classmate 

Underachievers usually believe that intelligence and skills are not acquired through time and effort. They believe that others are born that way. Whereas high achievers believe that if they do not have the necessary skills or knowledge to complete a task, they can develop it with practice and time. So children must be helped to believe that if they work hard and long enough at most things they too can succeed. 

Teach your child how to deal with failure

Children should be told that failure is to be expected at some point. If children wrongly believe that they should succeed from the very first time, they will be set up for defeat. But if they expect setbacks they are more likely to handle them well when they come. They must understand that failure does not equate to incompetence, rather it is an indication that something needs to be done differently. To convey this message, recount stories of successful people who  had to struggle before  succeeding.  

There are different kinds of failure: failure due to lack of effort and failure despite the effort. The former should not be acceptable where success is desired. The second however should be approached in a practical way. First, it is accepted as part of the journey to success. Second, it should be studied to identify what needs to change. If it is approached in this practical way, it will be less likely to discourage your child from trying again. 

Encourage your child not to give up at a given task

When your child finds a task difficult, encourage him/her to keep at it. If they are frustrated, it may be wise for them to take a break and come back to it later. Ask them questions that will help them get closer to solving the problem. For example, ask them “What else can you do?” Try not to solve the problem for them. Encourage them by saying “You will get it eventually”, or “This is hard, but I know that you will learn how to do this”. 

Persistence in all areas of life

Some people may be persistent in one area of their life but quitters in another. As adults, we see individuals who are successful professionally but unsuccessful in their spiritual or family life. Persistence, patience and hard work are required for all aspects of life. One who does not put any effort in strengthening the relationship with Allah and effort in family life cannot expect to have a happy successful personal life. So, just as children should be encouraged to persist in their education, they should also be encouraged to persist in their beliefs, values, sports, friendships, hobbies, etc.  

Using visualizations to keep your child motivated

Visualizing oneself at the end of the line is one of the most powerful ways to stay motivated. Working on a task, especially if it is long-term, may lead to discouragement along the way. Reminding children of the sweetness of the end result will help them face any setbacks with more strength and zeal.

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