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Power of Play Blog


Our children give us a gazillion reasons to capture moments with pictures on a daily basis. And when we snap that pic, what is often the very first thing they say? “Let me see!” Or, if not talking yet they likely just stomp right over and snatch the camera out of your hand to take a look-see for themselves. While today’s societal standard of “instant gratification” is appreciated on one hand, it also can mean a more uphill battle for learning how to persevere when things take a little longer or don’t go as expected on the other.

No Instant Gratification

Like so many other rich opportunities, play offers the development, practice and refinement of perseverance. Through play children are often met with various hurdles, some of which may be familiar and some of which may be new, but all of which that call on perseverance in order to get through. You may see it when your child takes it upon themselves to tackle something they haven’t yet done alone, like getting across the monkey bars. Or when your child continues to try and retry things don’t go as planned, like when the block structure they are creating keeps tumbling down. There is no instant gratification here. The monkey bars will not lower themselves or become closer together. The blocks will not become more stable or change in weight. Therefore, your child has opportunity to turn to perseverance and their own capabilities to get through it.

Confidence:  One of the Seven Powers of Play

At Minnesota Children’s Museum, we have identified seven skills we believe children need to thrive, now and throughout their lives, one of which is confidence. For us, confidence means to genuinely believe in own abilities in order to experience success and satisfaction- not only what one can do, but also what one is willing to try. Perseverance is component of confidence. What is often referred to as a non-cognitive skill, perseverance is what it takes to commit to something fully to the end. It is where grit and determination live, and how resilience is built. At its core, perseverance is exhibiting self-reliance and firmly believing you have what it takes- whether now or in the future- to get what you want accomplished, accomplished!

Promoting Perseverance with Your Child:  Stand Back!

To support and provide your child with the comfort and certainty they need to forge forward in their own experiences, start by expecting it from them. Assume they have the capacity to achieve their personal best and expect them to help themselves with minimal intervention. That means you may have to stand back a bit and help them only once they ask for it at times. Keep in mind that their asking for help doesn’t automatically mean you do it for them. Also, assure your child things take time and remind them that time and practice will eventually get them the results they are looking for. Lastly, be a role model. Be open with what you may be feeling when you experience a set back and express out loud your desire to try again.

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Parent resources are funded in part with money from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund that was created with the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.

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