Cover photo taken in collaboration with Kerry Cheah

Thomas Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts before successfully inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked how he felt about failing 1,000 times, he replied, "I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps."

It was Edison’s perseverance that gave the world the light bulb.

Persistence is an essential trait that children require to succeed in life. From buttoning their jackets to making new friends, or mastering the monkey bars – young children are faced with various social, emotional, cognitive, and physical challenges daily, and to varying degrees.

Our children can only acquire knowledge if they persist in challenging activities long enough for learning to take place.

This makes persistence an important developmental milestone for young children, as they learn to not to give up when the going gets tough and remain focused until they achieve their goals.

Wisetip twenty three point one


A research study published in the journal, "Child Development", has found that children are less likely to persist in a difficult task when an adult takes over for them.

It might be tempting for parents to step in when their children face challenges, but this action can easily backfire. Like adults, children learn through trial and error. Parents who rescue their children all the time are teaching them that they are unable to tackle their issues without outside help.

When you see your child struggling with a problem, you can take this opportunity to nurture your kids' problem-solving skills. You can do this by encouraging them not to give up and prompting them to think of possible solutions to a particularly frustrating task. Make an effort also to praise them for their effort as they work through a difficult task.


You are your child’s best role model. If you give up on difficulties easily, your children will learn from you. When you face any challenges, it is an opportunity to demonstrate persistence for your children.

For example, let them observe you when you’re opening a bottle cap that is stuck, learning a new skill, or even running a marathon!

When your children are older, you can also share with them about the times you failed and then succeeded through putting in the effort. Research shows that seeing a parent exert effort for a difficult task and then succeed makes children more likely to persist themselves.

Wisetip twenty three point two

In the words of award-winning author, James A. Michener: "Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries."

Let’s persevere in building persistence into our children’s character.