Last week we talked about the idea that “stamina” is not a word parents reference much to when talking about their concerns (“Stamina” (Part I)
This lack of stamina probably manifests in many different forms, much of which overlaps with some of the concepts of the popular term “executive function disorder.”.
While evaluating children I am always on the lookout for how quickly they may fall to answering “don’t know,” or giving up on a task.
Reading comprehension questions often reveal this style.
With factual questions (e.g., “How many ducks were on the pond?”) these can be quickly answered. The answer is either known or it is not. There’s no effort involved.
Inferential reasoning questions are a different matter. The answer is not readily apparent. Clues in the text must be considered requiring a certain amount of what I call, “Hmm, let me think about it,” consideration before answering.
Usually, these are revealed in “Why” type of questions (“Why did the ducks leave the pond?).
Stamina (effort) is required to answer such questions or complete challenging tasks where solutions are not readily apparent. One must “tough out” the impulse to shrug and quickly give up.
One piece of advice for parents is to not dive in too quickly to offer help.
You might try and say something like, “You’re a big girl, I bet you can figure it out” may give the right message. It conveys confidence that the child can figure it out, but that it may take some effort.
This issue of stamina is not just with schoolwork.
For example, I saw a mom readily help her child open her snack bag while on a break. In spite of the fact that the child was perfectly capable of opening her bag, she was getting “help.”
As talked things over with the mom, I gently (I hope) chided her for helping her daughter too quickly. The mom readily admitted to babying her too much rather than have her “tough it out.”
I joked with the mom telling her not to worry that I would cure her of that problem quickly.
The mom took the chiding and said she would readily take on the mission and she was ready for the challenge.
Don’t be so quick to dive in.’
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