By Karen Elinich, EdD, Director of Research and Evaluation for Please Touch Museum
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania’s Changing Brain Lab conducted a study at Please Touch Museum, inviting families to participate in a short activity while observing how young children persisted. The results of the study have just been published in the academic journal, Child Development, and found when adults delay helping a child with a difficult task, children aged 4-7 show more persistence when solving problems on their own.
Persistence is an important skill for school readiness. Educators have long known that children who are persistent are more likely to succeed in overcoming challenges and tackling advanced activities.
How can you help your child develop persistence?
Essentially, the research showed that an adult’s patience and endurance are an investment in a child’s persistence.
Tips for Parents:
As a five-year-old struggles with the buttons on a new shirt, a waiting parent who is in a hurry may feel a strong urge to “take over” and get it done. The quick fix would feel good, but the consequence would be a less persistent child.
Relaxing at home, a parent presents a new jigsaw puzzle to a six-year-old. The pieces in the new puzzle are a bit smaller than the child expects. The parent notices telltale signs that the child is immediately frustrated. To preempt a tantrum, the parent steps in and puts the pieces in place. An outburst is avoided, but the opportunity for the child to develop persistence in the face of reasonable challenges is missed.
It may be easier said than done, but whenever you can be patient and resist the urge to “take over,” you are helping your children develop the persistence they will need to be successful later in life!
Want to learn more?
Please Touch Museum partners with leading-edge child development researchers to infuse findings into our Museum experiences. Visit the links below to read about our current partnerships and find additional information on the University of Pennsylvania Changing Brain Lab study. Together, we change a child’s life as they discover the power of learning through play.