The familiar quote “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” can be traced back to The Teacher’s Manual by Thomas H. Palmer written in 1840. This quote may be from the past, but the lesson it teaches is important for the future of today’s young students. If we raise students to work hard and repeatedly try again they eventually will be a generation that will succeed in the future. Here are some ways adults can foster students’ attitudes to try and not give up.
1. Set kids up to succeed
Parents and teachers should not expect students to be able to do tasks that are too difficult for them. Giving a child a book to read that is too advanced will cause the student to be frustrated and give up. It is a good idea to give students tasks that are at their level that they can try to do on their own. Gradually the difficulty of tasks can be increased and students should still be encouraged to try to do the more difficult task on their own before asking for help.
2. Use words of praise that encourage kids to keep trying
Using the proper kind of praise is what fosters a trying attitude in students. An article about why some kids try harder and some kids give up talks about how adults are partially responsible for these attitudes. Parents and teachers can encourage students to try to accomplish tasks on their own by praising the amount of effort they give to the task. Saying “I knew you could do it if you kept trying!” or “practice makes perfect” are ways to encourage students to keep trying. A good quote for students to learn and repeat is the classic phrase: “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
3. Try not to praise students for being “smart”
Adults who praise kids by telling them they are smart might be instilling in them an attitude of “I don’t need to try” in order to do well. Some students think that they have a certain amount of ability no more and no less. Research shows that adolescent students are capable of learning and advancing beyond their original capacity. Students who are praised with phrases like “your effort really paid off” or “I can tell you were trying your best” tend to take on more challenging tasks in the future compared to students who will only attempt to do tasks that they know they can do well. Students who have the attitude that trying hard leads to success is much better than thinking they can only do as well as they already know they can do.
4. Don’t give students the answer right away: let them try on their own
It is important to let kids try to figure something out on their own. If a student asks a question it is best to help encourage them to try it themselves instead of immediately giving them the answer. If a student is really struggling it is okay to help them along and give them some clues so they don’t feel discouraged if they get stuck for too long.
5. Set a good example of one who will try, try again in order to succeed
Adults can be a positive pattern of how effort results in accomplishing difficult tasks. For example, if a parent is trying to fix the Internet connection they should try to solve the problem and fix it. Rather than calling on someone else to do things for you set an example for your kids by trying to accomplish tasks on your own.
Being aware of how to encourage students to keep trying is the key to developing this type of hard working attitude in students. As these students grow older and graduate from universities they will be a generation of adults who will keep trying until they succeed.