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Beyond Talent, Skill, Or Education: The Tool Your Child Really Needs

There is a trait that people who can do hard things all have in common. This single trait carries them farther than all others combined. Helping your child develop this will be the greatest gift you can give them. I am referring to perseverance. The ability to keep on going in spite of setbacks. How can you develop this? Read and be encouraged!

Have you ever set a goal so audacious or had a task so monumental that you were tempted to give up before it was completed? What did you do? Did you give up? Did you push through complaining all the way? Did you get someone else to do it? Or did you roll up your sleeves and power through all the way to the end?

If you pushed through all the way to the end and have made this your habit across time, then you have an extremely valuable ability. The ability to persevere. When you persevere through a task, a life challenge, or a road block along the way you have accomplished more than just getting the job done. You have developed strength and confidence to face the world with courage. You fill your heart with the "can do" attitude that brings energy and joy to your family, coworkers, friends and, most notably, to your self.

Don't you want your child to have that strength and confidence? Aren't you happy to see them energized when they realize that they can do hard things? For a child, there is nothing like the moment they find that they have mastered a skill that was once too difficult for them. They light up with confidence and a sense of their growing independence.

How can you help your child develop the ability to persevere? How can you help them get themselves over the humps and road blocks that we all encounter? I have compiled several suggestions that can lead you and your child to this life giving ability.

  1. Admit when something is hard. If your child is dealing with a task that seems overwhelming, go ahead and say it. The homework sheet that has an endless number of problems on it, the pile of stuff in their room that needs to be put away, tying their own shoes, whatever the challenge may be, just say, "This is hard." But the secret sauce is to follow it up by saying, "But you can do this. You can do hard things."

  2. Resist the urge to use bribery. It is tempting to offer a tangible reward for doing a hard thing. A promised treat may spur your child forward in the moment but, in the end, it is counter productive. For children, and adults, the greatest reward of achieving the goal is to complete the task and experience the exhilaration of accomplishment. No ice cream cone or small toy can bring the same sense of fulfillment. In addition, it becomes very easy to slip into the trap of doing hard things to receive a prize. Perseverance is its own prize. Relish the achievement.

  3. Tell your child when you are doing something hard. Your example is the greatest teacher your child will ever have. Everywhere you go, everything you do, their eyes are watching and their minds are learning. They look to you for clues about how to move through life and if they see you working through hard things with a good attitude they will imitate that habit. When you are dealing with a challenge, even a small one, tell your child that you are feeling challenged. But like the secret sauce we talked about earlier, the secret sauce here is to say with a smile, "But I can do hard things." You might give a little laugh and say, "I am determined to do this! It's not going to get the best of me!" When you have achieved the goal express how glad you are that you didn't give up. "It was hard, but I did it. That's a good feeling!" Say it aloud.

  4. Watch them struggle. This is the hardest thing any parent does at any stage of life. Watching you child experience a hard thing is gut wrenching at times. There will come a day when there is nothing that you can do but watch and pray. When your children are still young, you often face the temptation to rush in and do for them some hard thing that they should do themselves. Reign yourself in for a bit. You may, in the end, have to intervene but watch for a while first. Perhaps they will surprise you (and themselves) and achieve something that neither you nor they thought they could. What a great feeling! Don't steal these moments of joy from your child. You can't ride the bicycle for them, and you shouldn't try. That would be depriving them the opportunity to learn how strong and able they are themselves. Instead of jumping in to help, stay nearby and offer encouragement and support.

Several years ago I rode my bicycle 36 miles from the village of Frisco on the Outer Banks of NC to Ocracoke Village on Ocracoke Island, NC and back again. I am not an athlete so this was a big deal for me. This adventure was on my bucket list and I was determined. I was about 1/3 of the way into this when I realized that I had taken on a very hard thing. I had two choices: quit or persevere. These are the two choices we all have every day. I chose to persevere that day and I'm so glad that I have the habit of going the distance. It has taken me farther than anything else. There is no amount of talent, education or skill that will carry you, me, or your child through life with greater happiness.

I encourage you to read my book "Harbor Home: Create A Home Where You And Your Children Can Thrive" published by Morgan James and available wherever books are sold.

Persevere today!

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