Perseverance is that behavior which consists in consistently pursuing one's own purposes, despite the difficulties.
E this virtue can be learned from the first months of life by observing the parents.
This is demonstrated by a research conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and published in Science and taken up by the journal Del Paesena Le Scienze.
Scholars have shown that young children who have watched an adult engage in a goal (such as opening a hard jar) are more likely to be more persistent in completing a difficult task, such as making a game work.
"We do not realize how much children observe us and how many logical deductions they draw from our behaviorexplains Laura Schulz cognitivist at MIT and senior author of the study.
A systematic review
Julia Leonard, one of the authors of the research, sampled 262 children between 13 and 18 months of age while visiting the Boston Children's Museum. And she divided them into three groups.
In front of the first group of childreni Leonard has up to be a persevering adult who had to open a jar and a carabiner with a key ring attached. In trying to open the two objects, the researcher maintained eye contact with the little ones and underlined her efforts with phrases such as: "Hmmm,
How do I get my toy out of here now? ”He pretended to be having trouble with each of the toys for 30 seconds before opening the container and unhooking the keychain from the carabiner.
Then he handed out a musical note to the little ones in which the real button to activate it was hidden, while a fake button was clearly visible.
In the second group, the researcher showed that she made very little effort when opening the container or removing the key ring. Then she took the musical toy back, gave it to the little ones and left the room.
To the third group he delivered the toy directly to the children without doing anything.
the result was that the little ones who had seen Leonard engaged in the effort for 30 seconds before reaching the goal of opening the container and detaching the carabiner from the key ring pressed the button of the toy for a significantly longer time, demonstrating perseverance, compared to those who had seen her do it quickly or hadn't seen her do anything.Read also: Why it is important to respond to a baby's cry
"We already know that children can look at someone and understand what they are trying to do," says Paul Harris, a developmental psychologist at Harvard University. "But this goes much further, as it shows that children can look at someone, evaluate the persistence with which they try to do something, and then emulate the same behavior when they themselves are faced with a challenging task. Here is proof that an adult can affect even a small child, and in a rather direct way, adopting a persevering behavior ".
"This study suggests to us that if we want to raise persevering children, who have what can be called 'grit', we should start from an early age and we should reflect on how we first face challenges"explains Lucas Butler, a developmental psychologist at the University of Maryland at College Park.
Leonard repeated the experiment even without maintaining eye contact and without making comments in a language understandable to the little ones. Instead of saying, "Hmm, how can I do that?" with an engaging intonation for children, she used a normal tone.
As in the first experiment, the children still seemed to learn how valuable the effort was, but they didn't persist in the task of pushing the button as much as they did when Leonard gave more understandable signals.Read also: 11 tips to train children's intelligence
"It is curious that learning is not as effective when children are just observing."
This may suggest how important it is to actively involve children when we want to teach them a skill.
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