With having 4 kids, I swear we have someone in the house with just about every trait there is. I have a kid who will learn anything. He gets it in his head that he wants to learn something, and there is no stopping him. It is a trait I understand because I am/the same way. It looks like my/youngest daughter is going to be the same way. She gets determined. And then there is nothing that can stop her. My other 2 kids are not like that. They get easily frustrated when they do not learn how to do something quickly. That means that they have a tendency to give up. As a parent, I want my kids to succeed and I see that the only way to do that is by pushing on even when things are hard. So I want my kids to push and strive to never give up.
For many kids the difference between not giving up and I can’t do this, has to to do with how they see their efforts. If a child tends to think that the reward comes from the result, when they can’t get something right away, they think that they have failed. Many kids are so afraid of failing that they do not even want to try. Kids who get praised for their efforts, things like “I can see you put a lot of time into this” tend to want to preserve and learn the skill. You can help your kids by refocusing how you praise them. Instead of saying, ” What a great drawing” try saying, “I can see you took your time drawing this.”
Sometimes kids give up because they are overwhelmed with the idea of how long it will take. Break it down for them. Show the child the steps it will take to master what they are trying to learn. Think about when you are trying to do a puzzle. My daughter would get frustrated as soon as she saw all the pieces. So she would only do the 24 piece puzzles even though they were too easy for her. I would start by having her lay all the pieces the right side up. Then find the corners, the edges and the middles. Once she say that completing the puzzle was just a matter of going through the steps, she started to love them, and is working her way through the 1000 piece puzzles now. Once you have shown the kids the steps, make it fun to get through the steps. Make learning the skill a game. Make flash cards. Each flash card is a skill that is needed to get to learning how to do something. Get a cork board and as the child masters the skill, pin it to the board. At the bottom/of the board have the skill. The kids can see how many more steps it will take. It can help them stay motivated even when progress is slow.
Help kids understand that there will be setbacks. My daughter was trying to learn how to do a back walk over. It took her months to get it for the first time, while many of her friends learned it with 2 weeks. She was frustrated, to the point she didn’t even want to practice. Once she finally got it that first time, she was so excited she did it over and over again that day. When she got home and wanted to show everyone in the house, she couldn’t get it. She couldn’t do it again for 2 weeks. I had to explain to her that these things happen. Even once you master a new part of a skill, it doesn’t mean that you will always be able to do it. You have to keep practicing. Soon the time between getting it every time gets shorter and shorter. Now, she can do 3 back walkovers in a row and is starting to learn her back handspring skills. When she gets frustrated with not being able to get the handspring, I have to remind her, a backslide is ok. It happens. Just keep trying and keep practicing.
Let a child’s passion help them learn something new. Kids who have a passion towards something want to work hard for it. Find a way to combine the skill they want to learn with something they have a passion for. Sometimes it is building on a skill that is involved with the passion. Sometimes it could be using that passion as reward. Give the kids a goal.
Once you have kids set up with the skill they are trying to learn, a new way to focus on it, skill vs effort, and the steps to get them there, you should see less “I can’t do this”, and more “Look what I did.”