Helping children learn perseverance in today’s world
Meet Patrice. Her superpower is perseverance.
Perseverance – Noun
According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of perseverance is the continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure or opposition.
This word comes to mind when we think of the vulnerable children and families served through Buckner programs. Life adversity is often just a season but can have lifelong impacts. That’s why leaning on faith and building a solid community is important to get people through difficult times.
When a child has an adverse childhood experience (ACE), they may move past the season of difficulty, but memories and specific experiences will still be processed later through a more mature lens when their brains develop further. Triggers like a certain song, a specific smell or a person who reminds them of someone else can pull up old memories that remind children of trauma and can pause any newfound confidence or determination.
But through support, love and safety, children can draw from their individual malleability to persevere and grow into their God-given potential.
We asked our internal child experts how parents can help children learn about and develop perseverance.
Bekah – Director, Foster Youth Aging Out Program, Lubbock, Texas
Younger children often persevere in hard times because of the support of their caregivers and the fact they don’t have much control over their lives.
Teens, however, must choose to persevere. The temptation to “cut and run” is strong when a young person is in a situation where they don’t feel comfortable or are afraid. A teenager must choose to persevere and push through that fear. Often, adults see teens in foster care as “old enough to take care of themselves” or they only see the wall that teens from foster care often put up to protect their hearts, and they don’t see that teens need encouragement to persevere too.
Many youth look back on their experiences in foster care and recognize they can use those experiences to push them to go further and to do things that are hard. When a young person ages out of foster care, they have already faced situations many of us will never encounter.
They use those experiences to drive their passion to make their lives better, whether that is becoming a first-generation high school or college graduate, obtaining and maintaining stable employment, or raising their family without becoming involved in the Child Protective Services system.
Teens in foster care and former foster youth need caring adults who are willing to do the hard work of building a relationship with them. The caring adult could be a caring teacher or mentor, a foster parent, a case manager or CASA volunteer, but they need a person they can call at any time to ask questions, be encouraged and have the truth spoken to them about their goals and life.
Youth need people who will not give up on them, no matter what.
Cassandra – Director, Buckner Family Hope Center at Reed Road in Houston, Texas
Children learn not to give up just because something may seem to be a challenge. They find a solution and work harder to achieve their goal no matter how small or big.
Families can encourage their children daily to persevere during daily life. Teaching a child to not give up, being attentive to how your child responds to certain things and overall, always building your child’s confidence within their self.
Dior – Director of Administration and Operations, Houston, Texas
Perseverance is so easily taken for granted and not celebrated enough for the strength it takes. Every time a child continues to show up and continues to do something hard, it demonstrates perseverance.
Most of us, especially children, do not want to do the things that are hard, and we always have a choice to not do them. Therefore, when the child goes to school every day, despite them not liking it or it being hard, it shows resiliency and perseverance.
When I watch children come to Buckner’s after-school program instead of staying home or playing with neighborhood friends, it shows perseverance. It demonstrates they want something better for themselves, even if it means it might challenge them mentally, spiritually, physically and/or socially.
Tips to help children persevere
- Encouragement. Children have different strengths. What may be easier for one child can be harder for another. So, learn the uniqueness of your child. If getting up early is a struggle, praise them for having the drive and determination to get up earlier than usual. If your child has big dreams and works hard to hone their skills, praise their motivation to work toward a goal. Find something to encourage your child about.
- Practice what you preach. Parents have opportunities each day to show perseverance to their children. Maybe that’s finding a solution to a problem, or not letting your day get ruined when something happens out of your control. Teach your children perseverance by being a living example of it.
- Watch a movie as a family. There are lots of movies that showcase perseverance. The Pursuit of Happyness, Rudy, or Kung Fu Panda are a few that families can watch together to see a character overcome life challenges.
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