Teaching Your Toddler How To Persevere

“I can’t mommy!” When my son was young, he used this phrase. . . many. Our little people struggle with learning (and perfecting) many new tasks. However, they don’t always know how to persevere because they lack the resilience and practical skills to pick themselves up and try again. Does your child give up on new or challenging activities too easily instead of sticking with them? While this is normal, it is also important to consider how we can raise our young children to persevere and persevere in order to improve their overall well-being and future outcomes. In this article, we’ll explore what persistence versus persistence means, discuss potential obstacles to persistence for toddlers, and share examples of persistence activities for kids.

As I mentioned, things can be difficult for our little ones. They are constantly learning and growing, which means they also face challenges — new or tricky tasks that they must practice over and over (and over!) until they can do them easily. The ability to keep going, try, and overcome obstacles is called persistence.1 It plays an important role in our children’s development and future success.

It’s also important to understand the difference between “persevere” versus “persevere,” as these are closely related ideas. Perseverance is the ability to stick to your goals, no matter what. It doesn’t matter if things get tough; if you persevere, you’ll be good at sticking with it for a long time.1 Meanwhile, persistence is about sticking to something, showing constant effort, and not giving up easily.2 These things are similar, but endurance is more about long-term effort (marathon), and endurance is about being strong every day (sprint).

Let’s be honest — in life, sometimes only one wins. Or we have to practice and stick with something before we become good at it. While we don’t want our children to fail, experience the sting of failure, or become anxious, they will experience these feelings or situations at some point. This means they must learn how to persevere, move on, dust themselves off, and try again.

Learning how to persevere can support our children’s development and well-being in many ways:1,2,3

  • Improved resilience and mental well-being: Resilience helps children cope with stressful situations and difficulties. It builds resilience (their ability to bounce back after challenges), which supports overall mental well-being.
  • Improved confidence and self-esteem: Children see that they are capable, learn how to problem solve, and improve their skills. All these things help improve their self-confidence and self-esteem.
  • Innovation: Children who can persevere become creative, because they have the ability to explore new ideas or find innovative ways to solve problems.
  • Better long-term results: Our successes usually come after a lot of hard work and persistence. So, when children learn how to persevere, they are more likely to experience success and success in the future (for example, in education or finance). They see the long game, constantly strive to reach their goal, and navigate obstacles or challenges.

Persistence comes with time, exposure, and many opportunities to practice. However, our toddlers may not be naturally inclined to persevere. Here’s why:5,6

It is normal for our young children to worry about making mistakes or disappointing people. Make sure you reinforce their efforts rather than the outcome. For example, you might say, “I can see you’re trying so hard!” instead of, “Well done, you win!” You want to show that their efforts are what matter.

Toddlers do a lot of learning, and there are a lot of things they don’t know how to do yet. At times, they may experience low self-esteem and give up more easily if they have been struggling with a particular task for a long time or are faced with many new challenges. In these moments, you can hug them and give them encouragement. Remind them that it’s okay not to be perfect. It’s normal that you need practice and persistence at a task before you become good at it.

Overprotective parents who step in or don’t give their children the opportunity to test their limits may inadvertently stop the development of perseverance. I know it’s hard, but unless there’s a risk or it’s critical that you interfere, try to plan enough time to let your child do things for themselves. Start small and let them explore small risks, like climbing something on their own. Or put down a clean mat before you let them try to feed themselves. Also, practice handling your own emotions if you feel anxious or worried about them at low risk.

Toddlers are known for their impatience and busyness. Persistence and maintaining attention or focus is naturally a struggle for them. This is where activities that help them learn how to delay gratification or be patient can be helpful.

Boy playing in the public park on the playground

As a parent, teaching our children how to persevere requires us to support, encourage, and nurture our children. We must help them embrace and persevere through challenges and develop a mindset that sees problems as opportunities rather than setbacks. To help children learn about perseverance, you can support them in a number of ways, including:

Research shows that when parents share their problem-solving skills, show how they overcome adversity, or use certain language to talk about challenges (“overwhelmed” vs. “optimistic ”), it can influence how children deal with their own challenges. In fact, when your child sees you persist, they are more likely to persist as well.4

“What?!” I hear you exclaim. Understand! I know it’s so tempting to try to fix things for our children or protect them from the frustration of failure. But if we rush in and solve things for them, they don’t get a chance to practice, improve, or problem solve. Nor will they learn to tolerate the uncomfortable feelings that can sometimes arise when we face challenges.

Give them time and try not to rush. Otherwise, both of you will likely be disappointed. If you know they’re struggling with a task or struggling with something new, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to allow for mistakes or mistakes.

Don’t rush to solutions! Your child will never learn about their own strengths or abilities if you always give them the answer. I’m not saying don’t help; just give them a chance or encourage them to think of ideas/solutions before you offer your own.

You can teach your child how to problem solve by helping them break down challenging tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks. Or help them identify what is missing, what skills they need, or how to make plans to meet their goal.

Focus on your child’s efforts or perseverance when he sticks to a problem and doesn’t give up. For example, instead of saying, “Good job, you won the race!” you can say, “Wow, you worked so hard in practice, and your persistence really paid off.”

To help your child better understand this concept, try doing some activities with long-term goals. Generally, this means anything that involves multiple steps before they achieve a reward. Children’s activities for perseverance can include things like:

  • Following a recipe
  • Doing a puzzle
  • Reading a long book
  • Completing a work activity
  • Growing flowers
  • Setting up an edible garden (with vegetables and herbs that grow quickly, so the wait isn’t too long)
  • Building models or completing Lego kits
  • Playing hide and seek
  • Learning to play an instrument or a short piece of music (“Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” or “Hot Cross Buns,” for example) on something as simple as a children’s xylophone

Although it may not come naturally to them, persistence is important for young children. This is an important skill that will help them set and achieve goals, face life’s challenges, and overcome obstacles. This persistence lays the foundations for your child’s future and success and supports their overall life skills.

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