Babies Can Learn Persistence by Seeing Adults Struggle With a Task

Struggling to assemble something from IKEA? Let the little ones see you figure it out.

From CBS News:

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Especially if a baby is watching.

Children around 15 months old can become more persistent in pursuing a goal if they’ve just seen an adult struggle at a task before succeeding, a new study says.

The results suggest there may be value in letting children see you sweat. “Showing children that hard work works might encourage them to work hard too,” researchers concluded in a report released Thursday by the journal Science.

The babies in the study didn’t simply imitate what the grown-ups did. They faced a different challenge, showing they had absorbed a general lesson about the value of sticking to a task.

Apparently it helps to not only let the child see you struggle, but to talk about it while you’re doing it:

The effect was much stronger if the researcher had actively engaged the child while doing her own tasks by making eye contact, using the child’s name, and adopting the high-pitched, exaggerated-melody style of speech that adults typically use to hold a child’s attention.

Results show such young children “can learn the value of effort from just a couple of examples,” said study senior author Laura Schulz.

I stayed off the road and did a lot of freelance writing for my daughter’s first three years. Had I known about this then, I would have been more vocal when I was suffering writer’s block.

It is interesting to think that persistence can be instilled in children so young. That seems like a personality trait that would depend more on the nature side of things rather than the nurture side.

Teaching a child a trait that valuable would be worth mom and dad getting a little frustrated once in a while.