As parents, it is our responsibility to guide our children through life. We're expected to know everything and get things right the first time. Many times though, we could barely figure out even the simplest things. Who knows how to fix a leaking pipe, fold a fitted sheet properly, assemble a dollhouse, or build that LEGO figure? A lot of times, it's easier (and tempting) to just give up the task. How then can we model good behavior to little kids?
A recent study says, when it comes to setting a good example for kids, it's not so much about getting things right the first time, but keeping on until you get it right. And this lesson can be taught pretty early in life — think baby-to-toddler stage.
A Ph.D. Student in Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology named Julia Leonard conducted a study that observed 15-month old babies. She “showed 15-month-old babies one of two things: an experimenter working hard to achieve two different goals (getting a toy out of a container and getting a keychain off a carabiner), or an experimenter who effortlessly reached each goal.”
When it was their turn, the babies who saw someone work hard before achieving the desired results were twice as likely to push on with a task, than those who saw a task being performed effortlessly. In a nutshell, it shows that kids learn to persevere from watching adults keep at it.
We know that kids minds absorb information like sponges, and it's highlighted in this study. Young children, even with their limited speech and understanding, can learn from adults by merely observing what the grown-ups do. And we're not even talking about skills here — we mean values like perseverance and grit, which are crucial as they grow.
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So the next time you struggle with a task, keep in mind these two points:
Your child is watching you. How you approach a problem, look for a solution, and tackle every failure is a step to shaping your child's character.
You don't have to make everything look easy for your child. Trial-and-error is part of the learning process, so don't feel pressured to get it right at once.