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Key Takeaways:

  • Perseverance means pushing to succeed through determination and resilience, especially when things get challenging.
  • Teaching perseverance can make children more academically successful, mentally well, and better problem-solvers.
  • Some ways to teach kids perseverance include using “yet” language, positive-self talk, puzzle-making, caring for plants, and discussing real-life stories.

Teaching perseverance to kids is vital to their future success. Through engaging perseverance activities, children will learn that they can achieve their goals in a healthy, manageable way. Choosing to keep going isn’t always easy, but with the right tools, success can be right around the corner. Learn 15 fun and inspiring perseverance activities for kids in this article.

Definition of Perseverance for Kids

Perseverance is the ability to persist and continue working towards a goal despite facing challenges, obstacles, or setbacks. It involves determination, resilience, and a willingness to keep trying and learning even when things get challenging. In children, perseverance is a crucial skill that helps them succeed academically, socially, and in various life aspects.

Supplement your discussion with our All About Perseverance handout.

The Importance of Teaching Kids Perseverance

Teaching perseverance to children equips them with a foundational skillset essential for success in various aspects of life. Scientifically, studies show that perseverance correlates strongly with academic achievement [*]. Determined and resilient children are more likely to excel in school as they exhibit greater focus, dedication, and resilience when faced with challenging tasks.

This determination leads to improved problem-solving skills and a better ability to overcome obstacles, fostering a growth mindset. Moreover, perseverance is linked to better mental health outcomes in children [*]. When kids learn to persevere, they develop higher self-esteem, reduced anxiety, and increased emotional regulation, all contributing to overall well-being and mental resilience.

15 Fun and Inspiring Perseverance Activities for Kids

Persevering isn’t always easy, especially for young children. Making the ability to persevere fun, inspiring, and exciting is an excellent way for your child to overcome difficult situations. Here are 15 perseverance activities to try at home and in school.

1. Praise effort, not results

According to research, praising intelligence discourages perseverance by suggesting effort is less important than success [*]. As such, it’s imperative to focus on how hard your child works. Be specific about your praise. For instance, you might say, “I saw how hard you worked on your forehand at tennis practice today, great job!”

2. Practice positive self-talk

It can be challenging for a child to see failure as a learning opportunity. By practicing positive self-talk for high self-esteem, they can acknowledge their shortcomings and become more motivated to improve.

3. Allow your students to struggle

Parents won’t always be around to help their children succeed. Allowing your child to struggle helps build independence and self-confidence. Plus, resisting the urge to step in immediately will tell your child you trust them.

4. Use “Yet” language

You can help children break the cycle of negative thinking by using “yet” language. For instance, follow up, “I’m not good at this,” with “I’m not good at this yet.” Yet language can keep feelings of self-doubt at bay.

5. Plan ahead

Most kids experience failure because they lack the tools to accomplish a task. Teaching them simple ways to plan, such as using to-do lists or a planner, can help them move through the work step-by-step.

6. Think about the characteristics of a persevering person

“Build” a persevering person by having your child list characteristics they associate with tenacity and determination. For instance, they might suggest:

  • Practicing a hobby daily
  • Understanding it’s okay to make mistakes
  • Trying again when you fail
  • Not giving up

7. Read books about perseverance

There is a wealth of children’s books reinforcing perseverance, such as “The Little Engine That Could” by Watty Piper and “Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream” by Deloris Jordan. Read these books together and reflect on what made certain characters perseverant.

8. Give kids opportunities to help others

When children see people in need, they often naturally want to help. Give them opportunities to teach others to be perseverant, whether through group activities in class or by volunteering at community centers.

9. Manage expectations

Keeping expectations realistic doesn’t mean having low expectations. Reinforce that kids don’t have to be in a rush to succeed, breaking bigger tasks down into smaller ones.

For example, if your child is aiming to achieve an A in their math class, create smaller goals like practicing multiplication tables for 30 minutes a day or studying real-life math applications.

10. Care for a plant

Involving children in planting and caring for a garden teaches them about patience and the rewards of long-term effort. Watching plants grow from seeds encourages a sense of accomplishment and perseverance.

11. Learn how to play a musical instrument

Learning to play a musical instrument requires consistent practice and perseverance. Encourage children to stick with their instrument practice, praising their dedication and improvement over time.

12. Conquer an obstacle course

Create simple obstacle courses that require physical and mental effort. Guide children through the course, highlighting the importance of perseverance in completing each task successfully.

13. Discuss real-life success stories

Even the most successful people experienced a few failures in their lifetimes. Sharing stories about individuals who have persevered from history can inspire and motivate children. Some great examples to use are Walt Disney, who went bankrupt several times before achieving success with Disneyland, and Albert Einstein, who experienced surprising difficulties in school before revolutionizing physics with his groundbreaking theories.

14. Put puzzles together

Puzzles provide an excellent opportunity to demonstrate how the pieces don’t always fit. Introduce age-appropriate puzzles and gradually increase their complexity, using pictures that’ll engage your child.

15. Model perseverance

Especially at a young age, children tend to mimic habits they see in their parents and peers. When you’re having a hard time at work or at home, model that it’s perfectly acceptable to step back, take a moment, and recharge.

The Bottom Line

Setbacks and challenges are a natural part of life, and success often comes through perseverance. By practicing these perseverance activities, kids can learn resilience and determination while being kind to themselves.

Perseverance is just one aspect of becoming a well-rounded adult. Explore our character education posters to help children and teenagers develop healthy habits.

Sources:

  1. Usher E, et al. “Perseverant grit and self-efficacy: Are both essential for children’s academic success?” Journal of Educational Psychology, 2018.
  2. Hartley, M. “Examining the Relationships Between Resilience, Mental Health, and Academic Persistence in Undergraduate College Students.” Journal of American College Health, 2024.
  3. Gunderson EA, Gripshover S, Romero C, Dweck CS, Goldin‐Meadow S, Levine SC. “Parent Praise to 1‐ to 3‐Year‐Olds Predicts Children’s Motivational Frameworks 5 Years Later.” Child Development. 2013.

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