We often see our little ones work hard to accomplish something new. The child who learns to whistle for the first time has tried over and over again. Learning to snap one’s fingers is a similar process. There are lots of trials and errors. The child takes the feedback (not consciously) from all of the failed attempts and fine tunes those small movements until finally the SNAP is heard. How exciting!
Here is a perfect opportunity to reflect to your child what you have observed. Notice the effort: “Jake, you worked hard to do that. You tried over and over again until you finally could snap your fingers.” There’s no need for a lot of hoopla over this. Rather, calmly notice the effort.
Children have a natural drive to accomplish. If adults make a “big deal” over new skills, the child may feel more motivated to get the reaction from adults than to learn on their own. So it’s best to comment on the effort and mirror the child’s feelings: “You certainly worked hard at that. I think you’re feeling proud of yourself?”
Research scientists know that they may have hundreds of failures before they get the answer they are seeking. In pharmaceutical research, for example, the right formula may be trial #583. Imagine how the scientist feels when trial #198 is yet again not having the desired effects! In order to complete her goal, she must persevere and try again and again…. and again. Each failed attempt gives her another bit of information to guide her next trial.
People who fail the most have the most successes!
My son’s school needs to read this! It’s sad to see that he has lost his love of learning. He has NOT learned the value of effort. It’s hard for parents to instill this when at school he can just “get it done,” without worrying about the quality of it.
Sandra, that’s a good observation on your part about your son’s school. It sounds like you feel discouraged about trying to
instill the value of effort when you feel it’s not being fostered at school.
I think there are educators who are becoming more aware of this issue. You might consider finding a speaker for a PTO meeting
to address it (a local psychologist or school psychologist might be a good place to start). Also, I hope you will continue to demonstrate this at home. Parents have the opportunity to show their children healthy ways to respond to challenging situations. Does your son get to see you struggle through difficult tasks to completion? You can talk about your own feelings of how hard it is and that you just need to keep trying. Positive models at home can be powerful influences! Keep up the good work.