A Lesson in Perseverance

It’s been a family tradition since the late 70’s to skate on my parents’ pond in the country.  Growing up over the years, we’ve enjoyed many hockey games, figure skating “attempts”, and frozen fingers and toes (remedied with hot chocolate with marshmallows!).  During this past Christmas season, we took our two kids out to my parents’ house with the goal to teach our four year old son, Luke, how to skate.

I had it pictured in my head:  Luke straps on his skates, wobbles, falls, gets back up, and voila!  He learns to skate in no time.

The reality was much different.

My son gets very frustrated very easily!  If he can’t do something right the first time, he wants to give up immediately.  I was determined not to let that happen this time.

Before we got to my parents’ house, we had prepared him that him he would fall, and that was okay, but it was important to keep getting up and trying again.  Sure enough, he fell many, many times.  He wanted to give up.  He had in his mind it would be very easy.  He saw his daddy skating on the pond, and he automatically thought he could do what he was doing.  He would fall, slam his hands on the ice and say he didn’t want to do it anymore.  After the first few attempts, I thought “Maybe he wasn’t ready.  We’ll wait until he’s older.”  But then I thought, “If I allow him to give up now, this is going to teach him that it’s okay to give up when something doesn’t go right the first time or when he is faced with a challenge.”

With my mom, my dad, my husband and I, we helped and encouraged him and pushed him to try again and again.  Call it tough love, I suppose.  We knew he could do it; we just needed him to know it too.   Our words to him were very encouraging and positive.  We said things like:

  • “I know you can do this!”

  •  “Don’t give up!  Try again!”

  •  “You are so close!”

  •  “You stayed on your feet for a long time!”

  •  “You get better each time you try.”

  •  “We bought you those skates because we know you are ready to do this.”

I know he was probably irritated at us for pushing him so hard, but I wanted him to know the satisfaction of working hard at something and succeeding.

Finally – FINALLY – he was able to shuffle on his skates and skate about twenty feet all by himself.  We were overjoyed, and you could see on his face how proud he was.

He worked so hard without giving up and was rewarded for his perseverance.   A good day for all!!