My mom was the coach of my first grade soccer team. I’m sure you can guess what happened when nobody on the team wanted to be the goalie. Not a shocker, but I became the team’s new goalie. I was not impressed. Shucks, I wanted to run down the field, wind blowing through my hair, dribbling the ball and obviously scoring many goals (I assumed there would be many). Instead, I donned an ugly red t-shirt over my sparkling yellow jersey and spent much of each game in the solitary goal box.

After a few games I grew tired of this post. I longed to run around in the swarm of yellow jerseys, heading toward the goal. I voiced my discontent with this situation with “Coach Mom”. Yet, I remained the goalie for several seasons, and I hear that I was pretty good at it. This leaves me a bit speechless now, because I don’t think of myself as the most “nimble” person. Coach Mom’s point was that once you start something, you stick with it. She called this “stick-to-it-iveness.” What I know now is that “stick-to-it-iveness” means perseverance. I did not go on to play World Cup soccer, of even high school soccer, but I did learn the importance of sticking with something and seeing it through, even if I didn’t really like it at the time.

Albert Einstein said, “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” Perseverance is an important life skill that teachers and parents alike can help children to develop. Children learn new things at a rapid rate, some which are picked up quickly, and some of which take more time. Think about a young child learning to tie his shoe or riding a bike for the first time. These tasks can be easily frustrating for the child if they don’t have support and encouragement from a caring adult. And some good old fashioned “stick-to-it-iveness,” too!

Raymond J. Wlodkowski in his article “Developing Motivation for Lifelong Learning” says, “We may not be able to learn something well, and we often do not know this until we have tried for some time without apparent success. However, continuing attempts and dogged perseverance often precede great discoveries…” I guess that can be said for the Wright Brothers, Christopher Columbus and many others. As I think about children, that first coast down the sidewalk on a bike without training wheels feels pretty much like the voyage of the Mayflower.

For some more great tips on encouraging perseverance in children, take a look at this recent article in 4C’s The Parent Source.