The No. 1 soft skill that predicts kids’ success more than IQ—and how to teach it | #parenting

Through my research as a child psychologist, I’ve found that perseverance is the No. 1 soft skill that sets kids who are highly motivated apart from those who give up easily. In fact, studies have supported that it is a stronger predictor of success than IQ.

Kids who have perseverance don’t give up in the face of setbacks. They believe their efforts will pay off, so they stay motivated to work hard and finish what they start, despite any barriers that arise.

Here are nine ways parents can help kids build perseverance:

1. Fight the factors that discourage kids.

2. Teach that mistakes are growth opportunities.

Remind your kids that mistakes can be a positive thing, even if a situation doesn’t turn out they way they expected. Accept their errors and tell them: “It’s okay to mess up. What matters is that you tried.”

Admit to your own missteps, too. This will help them recognize that everyone makes mistakes, and that success happens when you don’t let setbacks define you.

3. “Chunk” tasks.

Teaching your kids to divide big tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks will help them feel more confident about completing things over time.

If they’re feeling frustrated with a math worksheet, for example, have them take a separate sheet of paper and cover all the math problems except the top row. Then continue lowering the paper down to the next row as they finish each one.

Or, if they are feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of homework they have, they can write down each assignment on a sticky note, stack them by difficulty, and do one task at a time.

4. Celebrate small wins.

Repeated failure can destroy perseverance, but the smallest success can encourage a child to keep going, so help them identify their little wins.

For example: “Last time, you spelled six words correctly. Today you got eight! That’s a gain. You’re improving because of your hard work!”

5. Stretch their focus.

If your child wants to give up on an assignment, put a timer on their desk and set it for an appropriate length of time, tailored to their attention span.

Explain that they just need to keep at it until the bell goes off. Then they can take a quick break and reset the timer.

Encourage them to see how many problems they can complete before the bell dings so that they see they are succeeding. Over time, focusing will get easier.

6. Correct “stumblers.”

When kids give up, it might be because they can’t see their way out of a challenge. Start by acknowledging their frustration and express that it’s a normal feeling. Try doing a breathing exercise or taking a break.

Then when they return to the task, see if you can help them identify one small stumbler that’s getting in their way.

For example: “It looks like you’re getting the addition and multiplication symbols mixed up.” Once the issue is clear, practice focusing on the stumbler until they slowly overcome it.

7. Praise effort.

8. Come up with “stick-to-it” statements.

9. Step back and let them figure it out.

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