Father teachs his little son to ride a bicycle, photo credit sanivpetro

Persistence is key to success in school and life

It’s great for kids to be talented and smart, but teachers know it’s just as important for them to be persistent. At one time or another everyone faces a challenging task or a heartbreaking setback. The key is to remind children to keep trying until they succeed. Pushing forward – even when difficult – is the key to success in life and at school.

To promote persistence in your child:

  • Talk about it. How has persistence already helped your child? Maybe he learned to ride a bike or play an instrument. What new challenge can he tackle now?
  • Break big goals into small parts. If your child is determined to raise his grade in English, support him by discussing steps and helping him develop a reasonable plan.
  • Offer encouragement. When your child is working on something challenging, say things like:
  •  I know you can do this.
  •  I bet you’ll figure it out.
  •  You’re making great progress. Keep at it. You’ll get it.
  •  It will get better. You’ll get the hang of it.
  •  If it doesn’t work that way, try another way.
  • Focus on the process. Sure, it feels great to see an A on a report card, but it also feels great to do well on a test after studying hard. Even better, it feels great to learn! Talk with your child about his accomplishments and what makes each of them worthwhile.
Habits of the mind, Photo credit Samford State School
Habits of the mind, Photo credit Samford State School

The habit of the mind is the impulsive affinity of a person to think in a certain way. A young person, thinking this way, is confronted with certain emotions and behavior. As a result, good social or emotional behavior will result in prosperity or underachievement, poor mental health and distress.


Organization means … setting a goal to be successful, planning my time so that I‟m not rushed, and having all my supplies ready.

Examples of Organised Behaviour

  • Making sure I understand my teacher‟s instructions before I begin work.
  • Having all my school supplies ready.
  • Having a neat desk and school bag so I can find everything.
  • Planning when I‟m going to do my homework so I have enough time.

Habits of the Mind to Help Me Be Organised

  • Setting a Goal means thinking that setting a goal can help me be more successful at something.
  • Planning My Time means thinking about how long schoolwork is going to take me to get done and planning enough time to get it done.
Joyful family skaters, photo credit Freepik
Joyful family skaters, photo credit Freepik

Getting Alone

Getting Along means .. working well with my classmates, solving conflicts peacefully, being sensitive to the feelings of others, being respectful, and helping make my community a better place to live and learn.

Examples of Getting Along

  • Working well with my classmates.
  • Listening and not interrupting when someone else is speaking.
  • Talking rather than fighting when someone treats me unfairly.
  • Following important classroom rules.
  • Helping others in need.

Habits of the Mind to Help Me Get Along

  • Being Tolerant of Others means not thinking that when someone is mean to me or different from me that he or she is a totally bad person.
  • Playing by the Rules means thinking that by following the school rules, school will be a better place to live and learn.
  • Thinking First means thinking that when someone treats me badly, I need to think about the best way to act.
  • Social Responsibility means thinking that it is important to be a good citizen and to help build a world with fairness and justice for all where everyone feels safe and secure.


Confidence means … a feeling I can do it Confidence also means not being afraid to make mistakes or to try something new.

Examples of Being Confident

  • Raising my hand to answer a hard question.
  • Doing hard work without asking for help.
  • Sharing a new idea with my teacher and class.
  • Saying “hello” and talking to someone new.

Habits of the Mind to Help My Confidence

  • Accepting Myself means not thinking badly about myself when I make a mistake.
  • Taking Risks means thinking that it‟s good to try something new even though I might not be able to do it.
  • Being Independent means thinking that it‟s important for me to try new activities and to speak up even if classmates think I‟m silly or stupid.
Happy kids at elementary school
Happy kids at elementary school


Persistence means … trying hard and not giving up when something feels like it‟s too hard to do.

Examples of Persistent Behaviour

  • Continuing to try even when schoolwork is hard.
  • Not being distracted by others.
  • Checking my work when I am finished to make sure it‟s correct.
  • Completing assignments on time.

Habits of the Mind to Help Me Be Persistent

  • Thinking “I Can Do It” means thinking that even when my work is hard, I can still do it.
  • Giving Effort means thinking that the harder I try, the better my success will be.
  • Working Tough means thinking that to be successful, I sometimes have to do things that are not easy or fun.

Emotional Resilience

Resilience means … knowing how to stop me from getting extremely angry, down, or worried when something “bag” happens. It means being able to calm down and feel better when I get very upset. It also means being able to control my behavior when I am very upset.

Examples of Resilience

  • When someone treats me unfairly, inconsiderately disrespectfully, I can stop myself from getting too angry and lashing out.
  • When I make mistakes, do not understand something, get a bad school report, or being teased or ignored, I can stop myself from getting very down.
  • When I have an important test or activity to perform, I can stop myself from getting extremely worried.
  • When I want to meet someone new, I can stop myself from getting extremely worried.
  • When someone is putting pressure on me to do the wrong thing, I can stop myself from getting extremely worried about what they will think of me if I stand up and say “no”.

Negative Habits of the Mind that Hurt my Resilience

  • Self-Determination – Creating a picture of yourself as if you were a total failure, thinking you were useless.
  • The need to be perfect or successful in everything that matters to you and others
  • Approval – I need people (parents, friends) to approve my opinion, my decisions … Without another’s opinion, the world has stopped.
  • I can’t do that – I’m not good at anything and I never will be
  • I can’t be distracted – every day should be fun and exciting. I can’t stand the boredom.
  • Being intolerant – everyone should always treat me tolerably, the way I want.
Girl and father drawing
Girl and father drawing

You can take to support your child’s social-emotional well-being


Develop a Positive Parent-Child Relationship (especially important if your child has achievement or  behavior problems)

  • Spend extra “special time” with your child.
  • Give your child plenty of physical affection (e.g., hugs and kisses).
  • Actively listen to your child without interrupting.
  • Refrain from using a negative tone of voice.
  • Be emotionally resilient and calm when faced with your child‟s imperfections.

Communicate High, Realistic Expectations for Your Child’s Achievement and Behaviour

  • Communicate from time to time that you expect your child to do the best s/he can in school.
  • Discuss expectations or rules for behavior (e.g., speaking respectfully, homework curfew, drinking and the consequences for breaking rules).
  • Praise your child when s/he has worked hard and made good behavioral choices.
  • Consistently enforce consequences (do what you say you are going to do).
  • Examine homework and have your child redo work that is sloppy and reveals little application.

Provide Your Child with Special Responsibilities and Involve Him/Her in Decision-Making

  • Allow your child to “have a say” when it comes to making decisions about the way things are done at home, including setting home rules.
  • Offer your child opportunities to be in charge of something important (age-appropriate, e.g., taking care of a family pet).
  • Provide your child with choices as to when s/he is going to do something (e.g., homework before or after dinner).
  • Include your child in planning special family events and activities.

Support Your Child’s Interests

  • Encourage your child to pursue his/her interests, rather than your interests.
  • Find out what interests your child and provide experiences of these interests (e.g, if you have an artistic child, locate extracurricular art classes and activities, or if you have a child with technical-mechanical activities, locate extra-curricular activities) that accommodate these interests (e.g., woodworking class).

Be interested and involved in Your Child’s Education

  • Show interest in what your child is learning if different classes/subjects at school (e.g., ask questions).
  • Get to know who your child‟s teachers are, and their names.
  • Be available to help your child when s/he has a problem with schoolwork.
  • Attend school events offered to parents, (e.g., P & C Meetings, Parent/Teacher Interviews)
  • Become a parent helper in the classroom

Motivate Your Child’s Learning

  • For homework, your kid finds difficult or boring/uninteresting,
  • provide lots of praise when work is being accomplished.
  • For homework your child finds interesting and pleasurable, avoid providing too much praise and, instead, encourage your child‟s further learning and interest in the subject
  • Communicate your belief that with effort, your child can be successful in school.

Communicate / Model Values, Positive Attitudes and Social-Emotional Skills

  • Spend time during the year discussing with your child important values (e.g., trust, respect, responsibility, fairness, citizenship).
  • Talk to your child abot different emotional resilience skills for staying calm (e.g, focusing on the positive things, talking to parents, friends, physical relaxation).
  • Provide different opportunities to encourage your child to be confident, persistent, and organized.
  • Getting along skills (e.g., how to make friends, solve conflicts and work in a group).
  • Teach your child “self-acceptance” (e.g., not to put him/herself down when negative events occur).
  • Teach your child “taking risks” (e.g., the desire to be very successful, but not requiring it to become pressure).
  • Teach your child “social independence” (e.g. it’s okay that he or she doesn’t like everyone; they should try new things and speak honestly, even if others don’t share the same opinion).
  • Teach your child about tolerance (e.g., achieving results sometimes involves dealing with uncomfortable things).
  • It is important for the child to “accept others” (e.g., not condemning others when they act rude).

Parents make the difference, Elementary School Edition
You can do it parent information handout, Samford State School

Written by

Irena Canji

I am a teacher in kindergarten. I have been working with children aged from three to seven since 2000. Also, I am a mother of two kids. My son is a teenager and my daughter is going to kindergarten. My main goal through the website is to show that the process is more important than the product. In childhood, kids need to play, have fun, learn through their experience.

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