It’s been some time since I’ve written a post on character traits and thought what better one to get on back on track with than determination and perseverance!
I believe these two traits go hand in hand. Determination is making a firm decision or resolve to accomplish something and perseverance is the ability to keep moving forward despite difficulties and challenges. I absolutely think that if we aren’t firm in our belief, the desire to persevere greatly diminishes.
This character trait can be especially difficult to teach because honestly, the best way to learn these skills is by experience, which often can place us in uncomfortable and stressful situations. It’s hard to watch your child suffer through hardships, especially if we ourselves haven’t learned to cope in a healthy manner. Life is full of trials and there is no escape from that. It has become extremely common for parents to step into their children’s lives in an attempt to “save” them from problems. I am not opposed to offering guidance and support to our children, but what good are we doing them if we jump in the water to rescue them the moment they start splashing? Isn’t it better to teach them to swim? I can’t be their lifeguard forever and neither can you.
The Burgess book series offers many opportunities to discuss perseverance and determination. A few examples include:
- The Adventures of Grandfather Frog (Chapter 10): Grandfather Frog is determined to go out into the Great World even though he has never been there and knows nothing of the dangers that await him.
- The Adventures of Jerry Muskrat (Chapter 14): Spotty the Turtle keeps going despite that he is the slowest.
- The Adventures of Peter Cottontail (Chapters 18-22): Peter won’t give up until he finds out why his friends are so busy ahead of winter.
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Below I’ve suggested some ways we can help prepare our children to not be victims of their circumstance, but to train them on the skills to overcome and press on. Do you have a strong-willed child? Even though this can be challenging to deal with as a parent, it is an example of determination that can be beneficial to the child later in life!
- Determination curriculum: free downloads and videos
- The “Never Give Up” Hike
- Bible stories for perseverance
- Read the Tortoise and the Hare (or watch this video) and fill out a reading journal
- Discuss different sports and how much practice goes into training the body to become an athlete. Read about Kurt Warner, Jim Abbott, Michael Oher, Rudy Ruettiger, Mia Hamm (or get this book), Jesse Owens (or this book), or Manny Pacquiao. (There are many more that could be on this list…I just chose a few here to highlight.)
- Discuss different musical instruments and how musicians spend years perfecting their talent, some despite difficult childhoods or handicaps. Read about Ludwig van Beethoven, Django Reinhardt, Ray Charles (or get this book), Hank Williams, Stevie Wonder (or this book), Rick Allen, etc.
- Read The Little Engine That Could (or watch this video) and use these lesson plan ideas.
- Begin a difficult or complicated puzzle and encourage your child to spend a little time on it every day until it’s finished. Celebrate with a favorite treat or a day at the park when it’s finally complete.
- Read about Helen Keller. Discuss the obstacles she had to overcome in order to succeed in her life. Do these Helen Keller activities.
- Explore and research the Olympics. Highlight some of the incredible stories of athletes who didn’t give up.
- Create your own Olympic games
- Talk about what a marathon is and how far runners go to finish the race (26 miles). Map out the distance from your house and drive it together to help kids really understand how far it really is! Read about Bobbi Gibb, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon.
- Look around your house for any unfinished projects that have been neglected and forgotten. Set some realistic goals to complete them.
- Study the perseverance of Paul in the Bible
- Read about famous inventors who failed many times before they achieved success: Wright Brothers, Albert Einstein (or read this book), Thomas Edison, etc.
- More activities for teaching perseverance
- Memorize Bible verses about perseverance
- Don’t be afraid to share your own personal experiences with getting through a difficult situation. Sharing our own stories can help encourage children and remind them that they aren’t alone (or use these bible verses about God’s presence).