Making Persistence a Habit
Research has shown that successful people display certain patterns of thinking and intelligent behavior when confronted with life’s problems. Arthur L. Costa, Ed.D., calls these patterns of thinking and behaving “habits of mind.” One of Costa’s “habits of mind” that is important to consider early in a child’s school career is persistence.
Persistence directly contributes to one’s success in solving problems. Efficient problem solvers persevere even when the solution to a problem or challenge is not obvious. They have learned how to apply a wide range of problem solving strategies and are able to collect information to indicate whether or not their chosen strategy is working. Good problem solvers know when it is necessary to back up and try another strategy. Efficient problem solvers also have systematic methods of analyzing a problem – knowing how to begin, what steps need to be completed, and what information to collect. Unfortunately, many children often give up in despair when confronted with a task or problem where the solution is not immediately known.
To help your child develop persistence when solving problems and facing challenges:
- Remind him/her of previous successes with similar tasks or problems, and that there are many strategies to try.
- Call your child’s attention to persistence exhibited by characters in television programs, movies, and stories.
- Share examples of how you must persist to be successful at your work with your child.
- Remind your child that learning is hard work and can be messy. Often things do not come easily and the right answer may not be obvious. It is important to persist and learn from your mistakes.
- Model your own willingness to try difficult tasks and discuss the process you went through as you learned.
- Discuss with your child the discipline and effort exhibited by successful people whom he/she admires.
- Read a biography together to underline the importance of effort in the life of someone who is accomplished in his/her field.
Costa, Arthur L. “Developing Your Child’s Habits of Success in School, Life, and Work.” Parenting for High Potential. Pp. 8-13. March, 2002.“Effort and Discipline.” Published by National Association for Gifted Children at http://www.nagc.org/index.aspx?id=969