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The Discipline of "Sticking-to-It"

Watch a young child figure out a puzzle, or pick a sticker off of a toy and you will see perseverance, the ability to stick with a task despite inexperience and trouble. At a young age, we often neglect to realize the importance of these small steps we take to stick to an assignment, responsibility or job. It is in our early years that we learn to discover what interests us. We also need the encouragement to try to figure things out.

A baby learns perseverance when she reaches over to grab a toy, and her arm is not long enough. She must learn to work hard to stretch and move and eventually learn to wiggle her body to get to the toy. It is through perseverance that a child is able to roll over, crawl, reach out, or succeed at any of life's challenges. All of the efforts and small successes that a child can achieve helps to reinforce the value of perseverance.

Families need to provide young children with age-appropriate and safe challenges. Help your young child by breaking a large goal into small steps. Keep the goal in mind with pictures or with your words of encouragement. If a child is doing a puzzle, keep a picture of the puzzle in front of her. You might even complete some of the puzzle to help see the missing pieces and let her finish the rest. Talk through the problem. Use words to give clues or ideas.

Exploring and learning are important parts of childhood. It is also important to add problem solving, creativity and the development of courage and optimism (hopefulness) to your child's life.

Young children need a lot of experiences to try things, but they also might need to be reminded to take a break and relax. They should stop when they are overwhelmed. Watch for a child's tolerance for frustration. Learning how to ask for help is important, too.

Offer more encouragement than criticism. Learning to manage frustration is a hard task. Children have to learn to struggle with disappointment and mistakes. A family's support and guidance can make the difference between a child continuing to try, and a child who wants to just give up.

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