As parents, it's our instinct to make life easier for our kiddos, right? We want to fight their battles, fix their messes, and right their wrongs. Up until a certain age, at least! It's instinctual, and it's just one of the things we do for our kids. We even try to shield them from seeing us fight our own battles or tackle a hard task. We don't want them to see us struggle, and we don't want them to think life can be hard. We're mom and dad! We're never supposed to have a hard time or (gasp!) fail at anything!
However, as much as we want to protect our kiddos, we do them a disservice by leading them to believe that we can do anything easily and that life is never hard. When our kids see us tackle a tough task and not give up, we're modeling the kind of behavior we want them to exhibit: perseverance and confidence. A recent study shows that it's not showing our kids that we get things right all the time - it's more important for them to see what when we don't get it right, we just keep on trying.
Julia Leonard, a PhD student Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, recently conducted a study observing 15-month-old babies. She showed the babies one of two things: an experimenter working really hard to achieve two goals (in the study, the experimenter was trying to get a toy out a container and get a key chain off a carabiner), or an experimenter who achieved both goals without effort. Then, the babies were assigned the same tasks.
Here's where it gets interesting!
The babies who watched the first experimenter (the one who worked hard to achieve their goals) were twice as likely to keep working at each task until they were successful. In comparison, the babies who witnessed the experimenter who did things with ease were more likely to give up. It's pretty clear that perseverance isn't a natural instinct: kids learn it from us!
So keep that in mind the next time you're faced with a difficult task. Your kids are watching you, and learning from you. And we don't have to make everything look easy! It's so beneficial to show our kids that hard work will pay off.