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Parenting And The Virtue Of Perseverance

Perseverance allows a child to work hard to reach a goal, this is an essential skill in childhood that will help kids have a successful time in their academic, social, and athletic pursuits. 

  • Published on: 12 Feb 2021
  • 5 min read
Parenting And The Virtue Of Perseverance

As children grow and learn, it’s natural that they will experience struggle as they strive to gain new skills. Coupled with the pandemic, which has forced many children to stay home as schools have closed indefinitely, this struggle might be heightened in kids that struggle with virtual learning. The learning process can be seen in young babies and older, school-aged children alike - and it can be tempting for parents to step in and do tasks for their kids in an attempt to keep kids from getting discouraged or frustrated. However, this ignores the virtue of teaching kids a vital skill that will enable them to have a successful childhood: perseverance. 

What is perseverance? 

Perseverance refers to the ability to keep trying to accomplish something despite facing obstacles. Perseverance allows a child to work hard to reach a goal, despite the length of time or the difficulty it takes to reach that goal. This is an essential skill in childhood that will help kids have a successful time in their academic, social, and athletic pursuits. 

playing kids

Child development experts observe that the more parents step in to assist or take over a task for a child, the less the child will persist at trying to complete the task. In other words, the more parents take over difficult things for their children, the less likely the children will be to attempt to complete these tasks on their own over time. From spoon-feeding a toddler, to dressing a preschooler, to tying the shoes of a school-aged child, to taking over math and writing assignments for older children, the temptation to take over difficult tasks for kids remains steady over time. As parents, we’ll always want to help our kids avoid frustration and sadness, but sometimes it’s important to actually let our kids struggle as this helps them develop a sense of perseverance.  

building blocks

One recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that 4 and 5-year-olds whose parents took over during a challenging task were less persistent in trying to complete the task, and that children whose parents helped take over the task quit sooner on subsequent tasks. The “taking over” by adults had a demotivating effect on their children, overpowering a child’s innate desire to succeed at a difficult goal. 

Here are some ideas for games that teach perseverance! 

1. Pipe cleaner sorting 

For this activity, you’ll need a colander and some multicolored pipe cleaners. Let your toddler try pushing the pipe cleaner one by one through the holes in the colander. When he’s done, have him pull all the pipe cleaners out, and start over! This game takes a lot of patience as toddlers have to concentrate on aiming the end of the pipe cleaner into the small holes.

2. Roll the ball

ball game for tots

Help your child learn to aim and roll a ball to you. First, stand close to one another, and let your child roll, drop, or kick the ball to you. Then, take 2 steps back, and have your child try again. Once she’s successful, take another 2 steps back, and try again. Continue this activity until your child can no longer roll the ball far enough to reach you! 

3. Throw-and-catch

Enable your child to establish good hand-eye coordination with this simple, yet challenging, game. Give your child a ball (can be fabric, plastic, or rubber), and have your child toss the ball up into the air, and then try to catch the ball. Encourage your child to throw the ball higher each time, making it harder to catch. 

4. Cereal towers

cereal tower

For this activity, you’ll need playdough, some raw spaghetti noodles, and some O-shaped cereal. Roll a chunk of playdough into a ball, place on a mat, and insert a noodle in the center of the dough. Then instruct your little one to slide the cereal pieces onto the noodle one by one, creating as large of a stack as he can! This game takes time and perseverance, but your little one will be a pro in no time! 

5. Balancing relay

Grab a spoon, and a plastic (or real, if you’re brave) egg, and set up two cones on opposite ends of your yard. Instruct your child to carry the spoon with the egg from one cone to the other, and then back again. If the egg falls, he has to start over from the first cone! Encourage your child to keep trying until he can make it all the way around both cones! 

6. Bean bag toss

Find a large bucket or bin, and some bean bags (if you don’t have any, you can use socks tied together). Place the bucket several feet away from your child, and see how many bean bags she can successfully toss into the bin. If it’s too easy at first, move the bin a little farther away. You can also hold the bin or bucket and slowly step from side to side for an even bigger challenge - a moving target! 

7. Block towers

Encourage your child to build the tallest tower he can using alphabet blocks or building blocks. See if he can make the tower as tall as himself! This is a simple game even toddlers can play by just learning to stack a few blocks at a time. 

In addition to these games, there are also several activities that are helpful in developing perseverance in children. Puzzles are always a great idea, as it takes time and patience to figure out how pieces fit together. Knob puzzles work best for toddlers, and larger jigsaw puzzles are a challenge for older kids. Games such as checkers, chess, dominoes, Go Fish, Connect 4, and other board games can be a wonderful teaching tool for children to practice persevering even when they’re losing a game. Building block sets like Legos, Magnatiles, and Duplos teach children patience as they learn to fit pieces together in a way that won’t crumble. 

Perseverance is a vital skill in childhood that will help children well into adulthood. Young toddlers need perseverance when learning new skills such as walking, climbing, or running, preschoolers need perseverance when potty training and getting dressed, and school-aged children need perseverance to continue to work hard even at subjects and courses that are challenging. Practice teaching your child perseverance from an early age, and she’ll be set up for a lifetime of success.

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Parenting is awesome. Sleep is overrated. Every day is an adventure. 


Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Kaitlyn Torrez

I’m Kaitlyn Torrez, from the San Francisco Bay Area. I live with my husband and two children, Roman and Logan. I’m a former preschool teacher, currently enjoying being a stay at home mom. I love all things writing, coffee, and chocolate. In my free time, I enjoy reading, blogging, and working out.

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