The difference between a successful individual and a failure is the ability to persist at a task, till success is achieved. ‘Task persistence’ is the fine line between success and failure.
When you persist at a task you do two things:
1. You don’t give up
2. You think of new ways of reaching your goal
Both the above are qualities that need to be nurtured in children, from early childhood till adolescence. The growth window to nurture persistence in children is from two to twelve years.
Erik Erikson the master of socio-emotional development defines it as the period when power, purpose and competence are developed in children.
Between the ages of three to five, parents can either help kids develop autonomy or develop a sense of shame and doubt! Parents need to understand and analyze their parenting styles to focus on ensuring that they are nurturing autonomy and independence in the child and not instilling a sense of shame and self-doubt in their children.
Kids will want to do things on their own and their attempts need to be praised and not criticized. Criticism at this crucial and delicate stage will lead to a sense of shame and doubt, in the child and lead to a lack of initiative. Give tasks to kids in which they get a sense of achievement. For example at this age, kids like to dress themselves but are unable to complete the task on their own. Therefore, parents need to support kids by letting them to do what they can. Followed by gently helping complete what they cannot. This gives a sense of achievement to the child and a feeling of ‘I can’ instead of ‘I can’t’.
When kids are playing with toys like blocks or jigsaw puzzles and are unable to fit a piece correctly it is very tempting for adults to immediately complete the task for the child. But No! Parents need to resist this temptation and instead support kids to learn ‘trial and error’. When kids use ‘trial and error’ as a part of learning it becomes a self initiated activity in which kids will continue to play for a longer period of time. This increases attention and focus in a child.
As kids grow older and move towards puberty, they are developing a sense of ‘industry v/s inferiority’. Therefore, avoid using vocabulary that ridicules, doubts or criticizes them, as it would coax the child to give up due to the fear of humiliation and defeat. Instead, focus on discussing with children about what works and what does not, thus helping them develop the essential thinking skills required for ‘trial and error’ and ‘task persistence’.
To develop task persistence in children focus on these famous five-
1. Comment rather than criticize
Tell your child ‘you scored 7 out of 10 in dictation, that is quite good’, ‘how do you think you can increase the score next time?’ Do not tell your child ‘inspite of teaching you every day you scored only 7 out of 10’.
2. Make them independent rather than dependent
Allow kids to do their homework on their own; do not hover or linger around like a jailor. If you want them to increase their speed, then put a timer that they can compete with.
3. Compliment rather than compare
It is so easy to compare your child to another sibling or friend, resist the temptation. Instead, make each child aware of their own potential and how they can develop more potential.
4. Pay attention to attention!
This simply means that parents need to be aware of the attention span of their kids. Is it growing with age or remaining the same or diminishing? In the early childhood years kids have an average attention span of eight to ten minutes. As they grow older, it should increase to 15, 20, 45 and 60 minutes. Board games, jigsaw puzzles all help nurture attention span.
5. Children do as you do and not as you say!
If your kids see you giving up too quickly or getting agitated and irritated at tasks, then they will learn the same and no amount of motivation will help.
Persistence is an essential ingredient for future success whether in school or life, so cultivate and nurture it today in your child. Persistence is a natural phenomenon in children, do not diffuse it. Instead, nurture it and let your child blossom.