When using resources, the following steps can (and should) be done in any order, repeatedly.
Identify and celebrate evidence of the skill.
Verify and reinforce learning with short discussions and questions.
Actively seek ways to practice the skill.
Point Out Evidence
Evidence is an example that proves something.
Evidence of persistence is seeing examples of people or things which are persistent.
Evidence helps our minds know what something looks like and helps us know that something is real and possible.
Evidence can be found in people (ourselves and others), in nature, and in stories.
Evidence of persistence:
Sally trying to tie her shoe for the 50th time.
A seed pushing up through the ground to grow into a flower.
Max sitting at the table all the way until dinner is done.
The Little Red Hen making bread even though no one wants to help her.
A teen with a learner permit (and their parent) spending hours learning to drive.
You can point out evidence when you read a book and talk about how hen didn’t stop even when her friends didn’t want to help or when you watch a movie and talk about how the fish told herself to just keep going no matter how hard the journey.
When looking for evidence in order to develop a specific skill it’s important to identify and celebrate what you find.
You identify evidence by pointing it out and by naming it.
“Look how the hen kept going even though her friends didn’t help. She’s persistent.”
“Wow! That fish kept swimming even though it was hard. What would you call that?”
Celebrate your evidence gathering simply by acknowledging it,
“Way to spot some evidence!”
Or in bigger ways, especially if you spy the evidence in yourself or your child!
“I noticed that you sat at the table until you finished all of your math! Way to be persistent!” *high five*
“Wow! I could see you were frustrated with Billy earlier, but you two kept talking until you figured it out! I think we need to do a cheer for that!” *make up and do silly cheer about persistence*
“Hey guess what? I really didn’t want to make dinner today, but I did anyway because we’ve been talking about persistence. I think we need to do a happy dance because I kept trying (and because we have a good dinner to eat).” *turn on a favorite song and dance for a minute*
The resources on this site are designed as evidence. Books, stories, movies, songs, activities, quotes can all be evidence of Success Skills.
Check In and Discuss
While you’re trying to guide children in learning Success Skills you need to check in to see what they are learning.
Frequent, but short conversations will be much more effective than one long drawn out one. Of course, if a child is enthusiastically engaged in the conversation then it hasn’t been too long yet. Just make sure you’re not the one dragging it on past that point. Better to stop while they are still enthusiastic. You can always have another short conversation later.
Short conversations don’t need to be formal. You don’t have to ask the child to come sit with you for awhile.
When you tuck your daughter into bed: “That was fun to watch a movie with you tonight. How did you think those fish were able to keep going when it was so hard for them?” (Listen and acknowledge answers and leave it at that for now. Perhaps mention something about her comments tomorrow in a short conversation.)
Stopping by a child’s table in your class: “Remember that chicken we read about yesterday. How do you think you could be like her?” (Listen and acknowledge answers and leave it at that for now. Perhaps ask the child later how it’s going with one of the ideas mentioned.)
Questions can be effective even if they aren’t answered out loud, because if you choose a good thought provoking question, then it may make things happen inside a person’s head that you may never know about.
When you take time like this to check in you have the opportunity to encourage progress, to reinforce learning, and even to clarify or correct misunderstandings.
Although questions are a great way to find out what a child knows or is thinking about something, sometimes you will notice that something isn’t quite right. Perhaps they didn’t quite understand a certain point. Sharing a short observation or clarifying statement (without turning it into a discussion or argument) can be helpful.
As you walk past your son’s room where he is playing: “I’ve noticed you’ve been working hard on being patient with your sister, but that doesn’t mean it’s ok to turn around and hit your brother.” Then keep on walking past.
The resources on this site often include discussion questions that can be used to promote conversations and learning.
Actively seek ways to practice the skill.
To do this you could choose a goal together of how you’ll practice.
“Let’s try to find one way each day that we can be persistent.”
Or you could set a time each day to review ways you have used that skill (or times you could have used that skill but didn’t).
At dinner time: “Ok, who wants to be first to tell us how you were persistent today?”
When tucking Sally into bed: “I tried to be persistent today at the gym when my workout was really tough! How about you?”
The idea of practicing is to get in the habit of understanding how the skill can help and also of recognizing when the skill would be helpful to use. It’s not all about doing the things perfectly right now.
So even if you and your kids recognize times when you should have used the skill and didn’t, don’t get too frustrated with yourselves. It’s a good thing to recognize you could have used the skill. In fact, that’s a big part of making change happen.
In those times, take a minute to think or talk through what you could have done. This will open up both of your minds to be more likely to act in this way next time you are in a similar situation.
Be patient with your child (and yourself) as you are learning this new skill. (Also, remember that depending on your child’s developmental age, he may not be able to completely master the skill yet. Remember that you are laying an important foundation for when he will be able to. Without that ground work, even when he is able to, he wouldn’t have the experience or knowledge to do it. So keep at it now!)
Staying up beat, positive, and encouraging keeps the mind in a progress and learning mode, instead of a defensive and closed off mode. You will enjoy the process more and it will be more productive too.
Remember that you and your child have time to learn. If either of you miss an opportunity to use your new skill, remind yourselves that you’ll get it next time!
Eventually you will! Think about how rewarding that will feel!
Keep practicing! And keep celebrating each little bit of progress!
Many of the resources on this site show what Success Skills look like. Those examples can give you ideas of how to practice them.
Now that you know how to use the Resources on this site, take a look at the list of Success Skills to pick one and move forward in your goal of building strong character!
As you do you may see how this process strengthens your relationship too.