It's always a shock when our once enthusiastic child comes to us and tells us that he wants to quit. A battle ensues. You tell him to stick it out and he screams "you can't make me!" You try to make deal with him but he still says "no!" You wonder if it's worth it. And finally, frustrated and defeated, you give in.
It can be challenging not to give in to your children's pleas to quit when you know they're having a hard time. We hate to see them falter. We balk when they fall down. We want to protect them from harsh realities of failing or loosing even though we know that the one who stands back up and perseveres is the one who triumphs in life.
So how can we teach our children to commit to the end even when it's challenging? Here are some ways to teach your children to persevere: (1) Adjust the family language: Use language at home that shows that your family is filled with winners who never give up. Ask your child.what do you hear people say when they're telling themselves not to quit? These phrases may be, "I can do it!" "Winners never quit, quitters never win," "It's not whether you win or lose but whether you stay in the game," or "I'll never give up!" Celebrate the moments when your children have used these phrases to motivate themselves and be sure to let them know when you've done the same. (2) Point out perseverance in action: If your child exhibits perseverance, take notice and let them know you're proud! Say to your children; You met the challenge head on, kept your commitment, and achieved your goal. What great focus! You must feel terrific and I am so proud of you!" Your child will feel motivated by your encouraging praise. It also let's your child know that you notice his hard work and you value his commitment.
(3) Be a persevering role model: Allow your children to see the ways you persevere and discuss these successes with them. Tell your children about your commitment to follow through with the tasks you take on—even when they get difficult. Let them hear you say, "I will keep trying and never give up until I have reached my goal!" (4) Agree on a family commitment motto: Call a family meeting and decide on a family motto when it comes to perseverance. For example: "Winners never quit, quitters never win", "Finish what you started," "Don't give up!" and "We will try, never fear, we will always persevere!" When you live by a family motto of commitment and perseverance, your children will hear it in their head when they are facing a challenge and will be much more likely to follow through. (5) Remind them that to start is to commit: Be sure to explain to your children that each time they start something; they need to commit to an agreed amount of time.
This might be a session, a year, or a full several-year program. Signing an agreement of commitment that can be hung on the refrigerator will help everyone understand that your family takes perseverance and commitment seriously. (6) Don't give in: While it may seem easier for everyone, when you allow your child to drop out or stop trying, you teach them that it's OK to give up. Quitting less important things as a child may lead to a pattern of quitting more important things as a teen or an adult. Barring serious issues like broken bones or abusive coaches, encourage your children to follow through with their commitments once they've made them. (7) Discuss the Sacrifice and Rewards of Commitment: We must help our child to understand that with commitment comes sacrifice as well as rewards.
Committing to one thing might mean giving up participating in another. For example, a child who commits to participating in a sport may not have time to be in the school play. However, he will gain the camaraderie of being on team, the challenge of the competition, and the pride of achieving his goal. When your child understands that commitment may mean giving something up as well as gaining something fun or exciting, he will be able to make his decision based on all the facts.
Remember, the more you believe in the importance of commitment, model it for your family, and weave it into everyday family life, the more that your children will learn that quitting is not an option when aiming to complete a task or achieve a goal.
Dr. Robyn Silverman is a child development specialist, success coach, and parenting expert. Known as "The Character Queen," she's the creator of the Powerful Words Character Toolkit, a character-building program for children's activity centers and families. For more information, or to contact Dr. Robyn, please visit http://www.DrRobynSilverman.com or to take part in her Powerful Parenting Blog, visit http://www.DrRobynsBlog.com