There exists a seemingly infinite stream of self-help articles that advise parents on how to raise kids with grit—children who persevere in the face of challenges. The offered wisdom ranges from the generically obvious (Praise the process! Use positive words!) to the bizarrely specific (Create an obstacle course!).
But perhaps the simplest way of instilling persistence in your kids is to persist yourself—and let them see you doing it. According to a new study by Julia Leonard, Yuna Lee, and Laura Schulz at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, even 1-year-old infants can draw lessons from such unspoken, undirected demos. When they see adults persisting at a challenging task, they themselves try harder when faced with an unrelated problem. As the team writes, “Showing children that hard work works might encourage them to work hard too.”
“It fits with a lot of prior research showing that infants are good at imitating adults’ goals,” says Liz Gunderson from Temple University, “but it goes one step further in showing that infants can imitate adults’ persistence toward a goal.”
“For an infant, energy is limited and almost everything is difficult,” says Shari Liu from Harvard University. “They’re learning to walk, talk, and build increasingly complex understandings of the world. So moment to moment, infants have to decide how best to invest their effort. This study shows that they look to adults to help guide these decisions.”
Read the whole story: The Atlantic