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A Simple Way to Teach Kids Perseverance

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Do you ever watch your child’s mood swing wildly based on the latest circumstance? Do you ever watch your own mood swing wildly based on your child’s reaction to the latest circumstance? Persevering and staying calm when life throws you lemons comes easier for some than others. Teaching kids perseverance can be even more difficult when a child is sensitive or intense

Question: How can we teach our kids the important skill of “making lemonade out of lemons” and learning to persevere through challenging situations?

Answer: Focus on small successes! Even if the success is small, when we value and celebrate the growth, this energy “fertilizes” the success. In the future, it will grow to be a larger presence for the next challenging experience. Because you know there will be a next time.

Charles Swindoll challenged us all with his famous statement, “…life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”

Start with sharing your highs and lows around the dinner table

A good first step to teaching kids perseverance is to make a habit of reflecting on both the good and the bad. Many families enjoy sharing “highs and lows” of the day around the dinner table

Unfortunately, this intentional practice can easily reinforce that life is about what happens to us (over which we have little control). By taking it a step further we can then focus on how we choose to react (over which we have complete control). 

Teach perseverance by diving deeper with questions and scripture

Thought provoking questions, with some thoughtful scripture, can help parents and kids alike learn to value perseverance, adaptability, and kindness in the face of the “lemons” that may have been shared. 

At your next dinner, ask your kids about a time when life was really hard. And don’t forget to share your own examples!  

Try asking: “When did you…

  • …work hard at something that was difficult?” Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord…(Colossians. 3:23)
  • …make a boring task be creative or fun?” Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
  • …respond kindly when someone was angry? A gentle answer turns away wrath…(Proverbs 15:1)
  • …remember God’s love when feeling discouraged?” In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. (Romans 8:37)
  • …try again after a mistake?” I can do all this through Him who gives me strength… (Philippians 4:13)
  • …choose a good attitude when it was hard?” Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3:12)

A printable resource you can use today! 

To get the conversation started around the dinner table, bedtime, or family meetings, we’ve developed a printable “Character Cube” cut-out. Encourage everyone in the family (even you!) to have a turn rolling the cube to prompt a story they may want to share. 

Once this activity becomes more familiar you might consider adding questions to keep the conversations going when teaching your kids perseverance and integrity: 

  • What was the result of that? 
  • How did you feel afterward? 
  • What was one way that helped you? 
  • How was that a blessing to someone else? 
  • What character trait did this help you develop?

Giving this sort of focus to kids’ success (and your own) helps develop positive attitudes and grow perseverance for when life “throws you lemons”. You can gently remind kids of their success in previous experiences when they are struggling with something similar in the future. This will give them confidence that they can overcome the challenge. Give it a roll!

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Lynne Jackson
Lynne Jackson
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