Every kid’s primary task as they grow up is to figure out who they are and how to live on their own in the world. That requires a necessary transition of ownership and responsibility from parents and adults to the child themselves.
“Some people want it to happen, some people wish it would happen, others make it happen.” – Michael Jordan, the GOAT.
Perhaps it’s a naive or ancient notion, the idea that anyone can make something great with their lives, especially if they work hard. It would be tempting to criticize young people for their lack of maturity and perspective, as older generations are so apt to do.
Another perspective would look at how the philosophy about how to raise kids has changed: if young people are being raised by adults who’ve removed most of their barriers, danger, or risk, then why would we expect them to do anything except continue to demand help? The perhaps simplistic message has a lot of nuances if you look at it from multiple angles.
So how do you teach the next generation about the importance of persistence?
It starts with identifying persistence as a valuable attribute and deciding to celebrate it and train for it. People who persist have learned to be confident in their ability to figure things out along the way because they’re certain about what matters to them.
In other words, we’re talking about self-awareness and self-confidence. We can encourage kids to stick with things even if they’re hard, giving them support and encouragement along the way. We can invite them to reflect on memories of being stuck with something, even if they think it’s trivial, like learning a video game or a social media app. We can share our own stories of persistence, allowing them to see behind the scenes of what a healthy adult does when they value and desire something.
Some kids will come out of the womb with a persistent, determined disposition. But everyone can grow to become someone who learns to persist, and it’s a necessary quality to living a life that matters.
Research has shown that kids who are fixed on goals they set for themselves make better choices academically, socially, and in terms of their health.
If we can guide them to identify their own goals, consider different pathways they might take to achieve them, and give them encouragement and support along the way, not only will they take responsibility for their lives, but they will also be better off from a holistic perspective.
Here’s a post we wrote all about goal-setting where we’ve included a step-by-step process and a Natural High activity you can do with kids, too.