Teaching kids to persevere when things are tough seems to be a huge problem for parents in the modern era. Kids seem to fall apart at the first sign of adversity, and parents are having a hard time moving their kids forward through these everyday challenges.

In order for children to grow into responsible and emotionally-healthy adults, they need a "can-do attitude." Making mistakes, getting stuck and pushing through is an essential part of learning how to cope, gain confidence, grow and finally succeed in life.

Many successful people failed repeatedly before reaching their goals. However, the obstacles they faced were pushed aside, as if success was achieved magically:

  • J.K Rowling's "Harry Potter" was rejected 12 times from top publishers.
  • Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first TV reporting job because they felt she was unfit for TV.
  • Albert Einstein's teachers supposedly considered him sloppy and lazy.

How can parents help their children develop the ability to keep trying when they don't succeed, along with solution-oriented thinking patterns?

Related article: "Conquer Frustration"

Smaller Steps

Achieve expertise – in any area – requires many little steps and a lot of practice.

When a baby learns to walk, we clap and cheer for each step taken, no matter if they fall.

We need the same attitude when our children:

  • learn to pour milk and spill
  • do a puzzle and get frustrated
  • find themselves overwhelmed at a homework assignment

Here are 6 ways to encourage young children to keep on trying.

(1) Show respect for a child's struggle.

Instead of making light of a difficult task ("This is easy; it will take you no time to learn"), show respect for a child's struggle.

Telling a child that something is easy often leads to a double-edged discouragement. If he completes the task, then he merely did something "easy" and it is not much of an accomplishment. If he can't succeed, he has failed at something that should have been easy.

If we show respect for a child's struggle and say "this can be hard," or "it is not so simple," then we send a message that if he does succeed it is a meaningful accomplishment. If he fails, at least he knows he made the effort on a difficult task.

  • "Reading new words can be hard."
  • "Tying shoelaces takes a lot of fancy finger work."

You can also give more useful information with the non-confrontational phrase "sometimes it helps." For example:

  • "Too many words on a paper can be hard to work with. Sometimes it helps to use your finger as a marker. Or cover the other words on the paper with your hand."
  • "Sometimes it helps to look in the mirror to see the zipper when you are trying to zip up."

(2) Show respect for a child's eventual readiness.

Parents sometimes make the mistake of disregarding children's fears and hesitancy:

  • "There's nothing to be afraid of. The scooter won't bite!"
  • "Getting organized is easy. I'll show you how."

Instead, acknowledge the child's timetable:

  • "When you are ready and comfortable, you can try the scooter."
  • "The beginning of school is always hard. New teachers have different ways of setting up the room and rules for writing headings and filling out papers. Soon you will figure it out and get organized."

(3) Be quick with encouraging remarks.

Everyone needs encouragement. Try saying things like:

  • " Keep at it. You can do it!"
  • "You should be proud of yourself. Even though you fell, you brushed yourself off and got right back on the bike."
  • "Let's see how much of this puzzle you can do."
  • "You look discouraged. What would help you to keep going?"

(4) Keep phrases handy to help kids get back up after a mistake.

  • "If we learn from our mistakes, then they're not really mistakes."
  • "Mistakes are a great way to learn new ways to do things."
  • "In this house, nobody gets in trouble for a mistake. Just be sure to learn for the next time."

(5) Encourage children to enjoy the process.

  • "Tying shoes can be tricky and takes a lot of practice. Each time you try, you'll be one step closer to success!"
  • "You've completed six of your homework questions. Only four more to go!"

(6) Be a role model.

Children do as we do, not as we say. If you learn to persist in your own challenges, this will set the best example for a child struggling to achieve.

  • "I finally learned how to bake bread. I kept trying different recipes and talking to my friend who has years of experience. I'm glad I kept trying!"
  • "The printer was broken and I was getting so frustrated. I turned it off, pressed the help button and added a new ink cartridge. Then it worked! I'm glad I didn't give up."

In our fast-paced world, it is imperative that we teach our children the lost art of perseverance. It might take a while, but with a little perseverance, we can do it!

Sources: Reachinginreachingout.com, "How To Talk So Kids Will Listen," "How To Talk So Kids Can"