Here’s how it works: A child tries a math or science problem and gets the wrong answer. But instead of going back to try it again, the child just gives up. “I can’t do math or science,” she says. Over time, she stops trying at all. She doesn’t do a project for the science fair because it’s too hard. In high school, she won’t take the tough science courses. “I’m just not a scientist,” she will say.
Parents can help change attitudes while children are young. It’s important for children to keep trying. When your child is struggling, have her stop working for a quiet talk with you.
Together, think back over her life. Remember times when she stuck with a difficult task and mastered it. Perhaps she was the first one in the family to figure out a new computer program, or she stuck with piano lessons until she could play a piece. Encourage her to go back and try the problem again. Then, when she does find the answer, help her see the link. “You stuck with it and figured it out.”
Help her apply this lesson to all areas of her life. Whether she’s learning to multiply fractions or learning to swim, perseverance will help her succeed.
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