In a world that can sometimes be too focused on instant gratification, it’s important to teach our children the importance of perseverance and it’s connection to success.
Our children, and us as well, are sensitive to words like “failure”. It can be easy for us to fail once and give up. We need to stop addressing failure like it’s always a bad thing. Failure helps us determine what didn’t work so we can improve upon it for next time. What is missing in most discussions of failure with our children is how they are going to overcome it. How they are going to persevere!
One way in which you can teach your children about perseverance is through goal setting. Setting goals is a great life-long habit that will teach perseverance and a good work ethic. To avoid frustration, have your child determine their overall goal – “I want to learn to play guitar,” and have them break it down into smaller goals, which could include weekly lessons, 30 min. practice time 3x a week, etc. This will help them keep focused without feeling overwhelmed.
Another way is to connect through communication. Many times we praise without stating all the hard work they’ve done to get that praise. When talking with your children, make sure you communicate the connection of their accomplishments to their hard work and practice. “Your batting practice sure paid off in your game today with that home run!” or “Your grades sure show how hard you’ve been studying, great job!”
Remind your children that successful people failed (many times!) before they succeeded, but they did succeed because they persevered through those failures and challenges. They didn’t give up!
Check out just a few examples of some now well-known individuals:
Walt Disney – his first animation company went bankrupt. He was fired by a news editor because he lacked imagination. Legend has it he was turned down 302 times before he got financing for creating Disney World.
J.K. Rowling – Twelve publishers rejected the Harry Potter manuscript! A year later she was given the green light by Barry Cunningham from Bloomsbury, who agreed to publish the book but insisted she get a day job cause there was no money in children’s books.
Dr. Seuss – 27 different publishers rejected Dr. Seuss’s first book To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.
Michael Jordan – Famous for being cut from his High School basketball team and then turning out to be the greatest basketball player in history, Michael Jordan is also well-known for this quote:
“I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Vincent Van Gogh – He only sold one painting in his lifetime to a friend. Despite that he kept painting and finished over 800 pieces. Now everyone wants to buy them and his most expensive painting is valued at $142.7 million.
TKD Tip: Children can oftentimes get frustrated easily while trying to learn new skills. You can’t blame them, but this can lead to them wanting to quit something before they’ve even been able to enjoy it. If you find your child becoming frustrated easily, sit them down and discuss ways to help the situation. Maybe they are trying to do too much at once or their goal needs to be broken down some more.
Parent/Child Activity: Ask your child to list or tell you five successful (or famous) people they admire. Research with them these five people to find out how they had to persevere to overcome failures. Write these out on poster board or in fun ways to hang around the house as motivational reminders that success means hard work and never giving up!