The Best Gift You Can Give Your Kids

Looking for the best gift to give your kids this holiday season? One that won’t cost an arm and a leg or be obsolete the time next December rolls around? One your children will cherish forever and pass on to their children?

What is this fantastic gift, and where can you find it? The gift is persistence, and you can find it within yourself.

Let me explain.

Researchers at Oregon State University say persistence is a great indicator of academic achievement. Their findings, published in Early Childhood Research Quarterly, show young children who pay attention and complete tasks are 50% more likely to obtain a college degree.

Investigators enrolled 430 preschool-aged children and rated them on ability to pay attention, follow directions, and complete tasks. Then they followed the children through young adulthood to see which ones obtained a college degree and which ones did not.

Each child also took standardized reading and math tests at 7 and 21 years of age.

And what did researchers find? Well, as it turns out, persistence during the preschool years is a stronger predictor of college completion than academic test scores!

The good news for parents is that persistence can be modeled and taught to young kids.

How? By persisting through difficult adult projects (your children are watching!) and by encouraging your kids to pay attention, remember instructions, and complete tasks.

Of course, this isn’t easy. Start by choosing activities likely to interest your child. Pick something simple, encourage them, and heap rewards for completion of the task. Then build on this experience by introducing more complicated, but ultimately more rewarding, projects.

What if your children are beyond the preschool years? What if they are in high school? Is it too late?

Not according to researchers at Brigham Young University.

Their study, published in the Journal of Early Adolescence, followed 325 families and looked at the end result of “persistence gained through fathers.”

Bottom line? Fathers who encourage their teens to stick with tasks and finish projects set a foundation for their children to cope with the stress and pressures of life. Their kids have lower delinquency rates and higher engagement in school.

Although this project looked specifically at fathers, the researchers believe their findings would hold true for moms as well.

We’ve all been there… that point when it feels like failure is just around the corner… that point when it’s easier to quit than to push through to the end. But it’s those who push through who succeed, even when the path they take is winding and rocky and seemingly impossible to traverse.

So moms and dads of children of all ages, if your child starts a project, encourage them to finish it. Don’t give up when the going gets tough. Hang in there. Help them through the struggle. And when all is said and done, reward them greatly for their effort.

And that’s why teaching persistence is one of the best gifts you can give your kids this holiday season!

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