I remember when my then four year old daughter dropped a whole container of tiny cake decorating pearls on the floor. They danced and rolled everywhere. I immediately went to seek the dust buster. My daughter was quick to say ‘Don’t use that Mum. It’s OK. I’ll pick them all up’. For a best part of the next half hour she was down on her knees pincer gripping the tiny decorating balls off the floor. I realised her motivation but her persistence to the task was incredible.

Unfortunately I can’t say the same for my own level of persistence the last time I played the Wii with my son. How incredibly frustrating that game was! I was uncoordinated, had none of that ‘inbuilt, magic know-how’ that children have these days in front of such gadgets and just found the whole experience terribly unenjoyable. To be honest, I wanted to quit very early on in the piece.

It would have been very easy for me to make up some excuse about needing to do some work or get the washing off the line but apart from wanting give my son some ‘Mum time’, I also knew that giving up just because it was difficult and frustrating was not the best thing to do, and of course not the best example for my son. At some point along my ‘growing up’ journey, my teachers and parents instilled this important life skill into me.

Persistence is one of the five Keys of Success from the ‘You Can Do It’ program that is taught at Charlton from Kindergarten to Year 6. Trying hard and not giving up
when something feels like it’s too hard to do is not a skill, or trait that comes naturally to all children. For some it seems an inherent trait, but for others it has to be taught. Some examples of persistent behaviour include;

  • Continuing to try even when schoolwork is hard
  • Not being distracted by others
  • Checking work when it’s finished to make sure it’s correct
  • Completing homework and assignments on time

At Charlton we are committed to developing young people’s social and emotional capabilities.

Parenting Educator Michael Grose says – “The ability to persist at a task and see it through to the end is one of the most important success skills that you can teach a child”.

As busy parents it’s very easy to do tasks for our children that we should let them persist with themselves. It’s easy to make life too easy for our children.

Parents who allow children to stop work when it gets too hard, stay home from school for a minor reason or give up on a sport because they are not succeeding straight away are not doing their children any favours and they are depriving children of opportunities to develop persistence.

It’s important to promote persistence by encouraging children to keep going and not give in at the slightest hurdle or difficulty. It’s important that parents be a sounding board for their children’s frustrations but parents also need to show confidence in their child’s ability to cope and get through difficulties.

There is a strong correlation between effort and success. The ability to persist in the face of difficulties is one of the best success attributes that children will ever develop.

This week, take the time to consider how persistent your child is. If you realise they need more work in this area, think about some ways you might be able to help them in this. ‘Stickability’ is very important!

Mrs Vicki Gunning / Head of Junior School