Life Skills: – Perseverance is the Best Predictor of Success

word of month character

Teaching character and life skills to students
In a study done by a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, Harold Stevenson,  it was found that children in the United States, China, Japan, and Taiwan had marked differences in their achievement levels.  The question that was asked was “why the difference in American children and those from Asian countries”.

The answer lied in what parents emphasized with their children’s learning and parenting styles.  Now before you think this is a vote for the Tiger Mom mentality, it is not.  But here are the differences in the parenting styles.

The Asian parents emphasized the value of effort with their children.  Their message was that if you stick with it, work hard on the problem, you will be successful.  Their expectation of the student was to not give up – and they would get the good grades they were expected to get.   The result was that the Asian children worked longer and harder because they believed that their success was based on how hard they worked.

Contrast that with the American children, whose parents were more likely to place emphasis on a child’s innate ability, allowing them to under perform as their parents lowered their academic expectations.  Couple that with the questions American parents are more likely to ask, “Did you win?”, “How many A’s did you get on your report card?”, we end up teaching our children that the end product – the grade, winning, getting the trophy or belt in martial arts – is more important than the journey and the effort and process that got you to the point that you were able to achieve.

What would make a difference in our children’s success in school and in life?  What if instead we emphasized the long term effect of putting forth your best effort, and sticking with a problem till it was solved and to learn from the mistakes we make along the way as we reach for our goals.  If our children learn from an early age that if they put their hearts and souls into whatever they need to achieve, they will be successful.  No more excuses permitted.  Yes it may take us a little longer, but in the end the satisfaction of the journey and knowing that it is the effort that counts the most – that it is not just the end goal, and we will find satisfaction in our accomplishments.

This is so in line with how the martial arts is taught at Balanced Life Skills. While there are many martial arts schools that sell black belt programs (you put in 2-4 years and we will give you a black belt), Balanced Life Skills is based on putting in the work and seeing the results of the effort each student makes.  It is a journey that we can learn so much from as we travel the road to being a better person.  It is a journey that every student and parent can learn from in other parts of their life.  We are not going to get it right the first time or even the 50th time.  But if we put forth the effort and do not quit, we will be successful.

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