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Character Strengths and Life Skills

How can I use media to teach my kid perseverance?

Perseverance is tough. That's why it's often called "grit." It's not the goal that's important in perseverance -- it's the stuff that happens along the way. The ability to learn from mistakes, to try -- and try again, and to figure out different ways to solve a problem is sometimes called "the gift of failure." Watching a frustrated kid struggle can be difficult for parents, but often it's part of the process of learning. Games, movies, and apps can help show kids examples of people who've persevered, broken down big tasks into smaller goals, and found new solutions.

Find movies and TV shows that celebrate grit. Watching movies and TV shows that highlight these elements can inspire kids to pursue their dreams, even when things get tough.

Work on problem-solving. Try apps and sites that encourage kids to brainstorm and explore different solutions

Play collaborative games. Kids may give up when they feel like they're all by themselves. Games that encourage collaboration allow them to buddy up and share the load.

Watch sports. Point out the perseverance it takes to train and compete.

Try sandbox-style games. Minecraft and other "sandbox-style" games are all about creating, trying ideas, and building your own world. In fact, it may be hard to get your kid to stop "persevering" through these games.

Tinker. Digital tools that let kids build and create make the connection between work and success.

Try these ideas for specific media types:

Movies, TV, and Books:

  • Help your kids find books that are at their reading levels, but encourage them to take on incremental challenges.
  • When they finish books, reward effort, not achievement.
  • Set aside an age-appropriate amount of time for reading each day; if kids struggle or are reluctant, offer ideas to break a big task into manageable chunks.
  • Read books about characters who have overcome challenges.
  • Watch movies and TV that inspire perseverance.

Social Media, Apps, Games, and Websites:

  • Look for media with positive, aspirational role models.
  • Find apps and games with lots of problem-solving.
  • Seek out apps and games that help with memory and concentration.
  • Choose apps and games that allow players to chip away at problems.
  • Talk about social media stars and how they've achieved their dreams.