It may initially seem that the topic of persistent children will address how to handle children who are persistent, taking persistence as a negative thing. This article actually celebrates persistence and enables you to delve into ways to encourage determination and perseverance.
Many research articles related to the world of work and success stress the importance of behaviours and attitudes, often placing importance on knowledge. Adults have days when things are hard, when it’s difficult to find the energy to follow things through.
We can, of course, work on developing a different mindset, change our perspective and realise the benefits of the goal. Does perseverance determine our chances of success more than skills and knowledge?
Nobel Prize winners all have their own stories of achievement. They also tend to share one thing — being described as people who are passionate and never give up. Sometimes we may wish our children were less persistent, especially during the toddler years. However, resilience and stamina are wonderful traits essential for accomplishment. So if you’re lucky enough to have a persistent child, take a breath during difficult times, allow them to be and dream of the achievements their strength will enable them to follow. If your child isn’t naturally persistent, this article provides effective ways to facilitate and encourage your child, especially at times when they wish to just give up due to physical or emotional reasons. Their reasons might be a hard task, lack of focus or tangible rewards, or just because there is potentially something more interesting to have a go at.
It is believed that perseverance is an inherited trait and this has been researched by numerous psychologists. There is also evidence that children can be raised, through modelling, encouragement and praise, to be more persistent.
If persistence is seen on a continuum from zero to 10, where is your persistence? Where would you rank your child and where would they rank themselves?
What you can do
Reward persistence. Celebrate when they don’t give up, even when what they won’t give up is their argument with you — now that’s a challenge.
Allow resistance. Encourage them to consider alternatives and accept that this is all right. As they get older, they will become more flexible. Trust that experimenting and allowing them to be themselves will work out in the end.
Search for win/win solutions. Your persistent child is on a mission; sometimes your agenda is just not right from their perspective. Children love compromise. So let them feel you’re willing to work with them. If you are too controlling, research shows you are probably going to see rebellion in years to come. It’s also important to teach your child how to identify each others’ need and find solutions that both of you can live with.
Help with change. Children who are persistent usually have a harder time with transition. Identify a support strategy to make both of your lives easier.
Let them be sad. If they are not allowed to be sad and fail, they are not using the full range of their emotions. These are needed, the highs and the lows, to play all the ‘notes’.
Model perseverance. Show your child how you can achieve by not giving up and how to cope with setbacks — don’t hide them all!
Why not see the next week as a challenge for you to persevere? Try one tip each day and add one of your own too.
Dr Clare Beckett-McInroy is a co-active organisational and executive coach, managing director/senior consultant with Beckett McInroy Consultants, president of Bizladies, Bahrain Chapter, and lecturer on the University of Strathclyde’s MBA programme.