How To Teach Our Kids Persistence

Never say a child can’t do persistence.

Children are great at persistence ……. as long as the reward at the end is big enough.

Admittedly there are huge hurdles in trying to get your kid to finish some task that they had started or should start. It might be looking after their pet dog that they promised they would when they begged you to buy it for them. Or maybe it’s finishing a challenging game or simply doing the dishes. Whatever the challenge is, persistence is needed to see the task through. So how do we encourage our little ones to hold out to the end without ugly scenes, or our default of giving in and doing it yourself?

I had a child who had a great persistence muscle … but only for tangible rewards. He would get his homework done so he could go out and play. Rather unfortunately when there seemed to him that there wasn’t a good enough reason to do something his father would pay him to do it. Needless to say, his dad had a lot of success. He could get our boy to do whatever was necessary and more. Although this is not considered a good parenting strategy it is a fact that a child or anyone for that matter has to have a viable reason to motivate them to persist at a task. Preferably it needs to be a positive motivation not a negative one like “ well, sorry but if you don’t feed the cat we’ll have to find another home for it!” or “If you don’t finish your vegetables you’ll get sick”.

Positive motivation, however, doesn’t needed to have a huge tangible reward. It can simply be in the form of encouragement for having persisted at something and praise for having achieved it. So if your child is reluctant to finish a task when the going gets tough, try setting easily accomplished goals, encourage them to persist and praise them when they completes the task.

Some phrases that work well taken from the authors of are

  • “Look at all of your hard work.”
  • “Good for you, you didn’t give up.”
  • “The more you practice, the better you get.”
  • “You did that even though it wasn’t easy or fun.”
  • “That was hard, but look how easy you made it by trying.”

In this way you are helping your child develop pride in having persisted. So when the going gets tough and he wants to give up he can remind himself of the satisfaction of having completed a task.

One such example comes to mind. It was told to me by a yoga teacher who was giving private classes to a young boy. This teacher is a master at being able to think outside the box. The boy had very little flexibility, body awareness or stamina. When confronted with Bow Pose he couldn’t reach his feet and gave up. The teacher said never mind and moved on to another easily accomplished pose. Next lesson they tried again, this time with just one hand and one foot, which he managed. After about 4 sessions he finally got into it with both hands and held it. He felt really good about that. Soon after, he came across another challenging pose, he crumbled after the first attempt and wouldn’t try anymore. Then the teacher reminded him of how he had persisted with Bow Pose. That he had tried again week after week and finally he got it and it felt so good. So now, she said, he could do the same with this pose. All it takes is small steps and a little persistence. These days, I’m told, he doesn’t need to be reminded; persistence comes naturally to him. His mother remarked how much yoga has helped him not only with his strength and flexibility but also how he is now much more willing to stick at things without falling in a heap.

Yoga for children is a wonderful way of developing their persistence muscle. The skilled teachers who run classes at our Gold Coast ASMY bring not only fun and enjoyment into the Mindful Kids classes but also encourage valuable skills like persistence which will be helpful throughout their life.


By Vrndavan Dasi
Founder and Principal of Veda Yoga Teacher Training