Your child tries to put on a sock, but it slips off the big toe and is immediately flung across the room. Recalcitrant jars get short shrift too — if the lid won’t budge straightaway, your child moves on to another activity.
It bothers many parents when their offspring give up easily. “They might unconsciously be undercutting the child’s regard for perseverance,” points out Nicola Schmidt, a German economics journalist and mother of two who has written several bestselling books on child-rearing.
Instead of praising the child only for successful outcomes of his or her actions, parents should also acknowledge the child’s efforts, she advises. Saying, for example, “You didn’t succeed, but you tried three times! Keep at it,” will provide the child with a different kind of motivation.
By giving credit solely for success, says Schmidt, parents abet children’s thinking that if they’re unable to do something right away, they’re unable to do it.
“Instead, children should come to realize that they can learn to do anything, but sometimes it takes a while,” she remarks.
She also advises parents to consider the example they set for their children. If a cake you baked didn’t turn out well, for instance, do you say, “I won’t ever try that recipe again!” or, “Tomorrow I’ll give it another go!”
It’s also helpful if kids, beginning at an early age, see their
parents toil away on difficult tasks or projects, Schmidt says, “because children don’t always do what we say, but what we do.”