It’s too hard.
I can’t do it.
I’ll never be able to do it.
These are lines I’ve definitely heard in my house. Have you? Maybe it was from your kiddo. Or maybe it was from you? (I’m definitely guilty of it.) But it doesn’t have to be that way. The ability to persevere in the face of challenge is a skill that any child can learn. Here are five ways to help you work through those moments of frustration and help your child see the other side. This post contains affiliate links.
How to Raise a Kid that Never Gives Up
Here are five ways to help kids understand that although learning and life can be hard, they can make it and they can succeed.
1. Set goals.
Have you heard of tiny Melinda Mae? Who ate a monstrous whale? In the fabulous Shel Silverstein poem, she starts in and attacks her goal, one bite at a time. Learning and life goals can be the same way. Learn to read sounds insurmountable to a young child. But learn the sight words the and can and sound out the alphabet sounds much more doable. So give your child tiered goals. A stretch goal of something to reach for as well as more manageable goals that break that stretch goal into smaller chunks.
2. Let them know that failure is OK.
Who’s got a perfectionist in the house? I do. And I see that girl struggling with getting things done because perfect is an insurmountable goal. I notice her caving in and giving up when she thinks the output won’t be good enough. The secret is that girl is me. And I see that girl coming out in my child, so I started digging into ways to prevent her from struggling like I have. So I’ve been studying psychologist Carol Dweck’s Mindset. Her research shows that how we perceive our abilities shapes the outcome of our abilities. If we believe that we aren’t good enough, then we won’t be good enough and will give up. But that’s not the end game. Because we can grow our brains. We can always be better than we are today. We just have to believe that it is possible. This is a growth mindset.
I’ve also been looking for inspiring ways to help my daughter understand that things don’t have to be perfect to be valuable. I love this video about Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx. Her company is worth a billion now. Literally. Partially due to how she was raised to believe that failure is good. Every night at dinner, her dad asked her about her day. And asked her to tell him one way she FAILED. Not because he wanted to punish failure, but because he wanted to honor and celebrate failure. Because if you’d didn’t fail at anything that day, you weren’t trying hard enough.
3. Learn the power of the word Yet.
My friend Andra reminded me that powerful sentence, ” I can’t do it.” can become even more powerful with the addition of one little word. Yet. I can’t do it becomes I can’t do it, yet. Yet fills that super-negative sentence with a shot of hope. So next time you hear your kiddo get frustrated and see that they’re on the verge of quitting, give them a dose of hope. Teach them about the word Yet. Click over to hear a little more about her take on the Power of Yet.
4. Show them you’ve been there.
Learning can be hard. For anyone. When people hear that I’m an MIT engineer, some assume that learning comes easy to me. Totally not so! I failed freshman physics. I scraped by in organic chemistry. My first project as an engineer in a chemical plant caught fire. Allllll by itself… And the floor melted.
But I scraped up that smoking floor coating and kept on going. And those failures taught me that it’s OK to fail and that you learn a lot every time it happens. And that hard work and persistance pays off. So I try to tell these stories to my daughter when she’s struggling to show her that success comes from the process, not just the end result.
I know that you have a story where you kept on trucking in the face of something hard. Tell your kiddo about it. Because empathy is worth everything.
5. Practice. Practice. Practice.
Olympians get to the Olympics because they work hard. Every day. And their sport gets easier for them every time they practice. They can run faster, score more goals and jump over higher bars all because they keep working at it. Life is the same way. The more you challenge yourself in life, the more you can handle and the less likely you are to give up.
So give your child some challenges, every day. But so it isn’t tedious, make them fun. Like STEAM kind of fun. Because science experiments and building activities are a lot more interesting than another school worksheet. But they still build the same power in helping kids develop those perseverance muscles. To train those muscles for when they really need them in life. And to help you along, we pulled something together for you.
This 3 page FREEBIE is a great starting point to get you and your kids excited about STEAM projects. It includes a cheat sheet with 52 ideas and 2 sample projects to try right now!
And it’s a peek into my new book, STEAM Kids. We’ve pulled together an amazing resource full of 50+ hands-on science, technology, engineering, art and math activities for kids. Cool stuff like PVC pipe slingshots, rainbow reactions and Grab your freebie and you’ll hear more about it.
Tell me, how do you like to help your kiddos keep going?