“Endurance and to be able to endure is the first lesson a child should learn because it’s the one they will most need to know.” — Jean Jacques Rousseau
When we think of endurance, we often think of physical strength, not emotional or psychological fortitude. However, Rousseau’s writings about children, parenting, and teaching pointed to the fact that emotional and/or psychological endurance is what children most need to know.
This is so true because as we go through life, patience and the ability to withstand when there are challenges and obstacles is paramount. Even small children have to learn to wait — wait their turn at school, at home or in the community. And, as adults, the same holds true. No matter how much we plan, schedule and try to manage our lives, there are some things that we have absolutely no control over. Traffic, the weather, our computers crashing are all examples of things we cannot control. But in order to survive and move forward, we definitely have to endure these occurrences. We have to coach ourselves and acquire the ability to cope with changes in our routines and plans.
The extent to which we succeed with this probably is related to a compilation of things, like our attitudes and beliefs, and will be helped along by picking up new skills and strategies along the way. By looking at the ability to endure as the long-term goal when raising a child, one begins to see how everyday life holds valuable lessons. We don’t have to create them — they just arrive on our doorstep. And, (this is normal) if the child does not learn the lesson the first time, another opportunity will follow shortly! We need to teach children about enjoying simple pleasures, and about the importance of maintaining an optimistic attitude and holding onto hope, and there are many occasions and instruments to help us to propagate this learning. And most importantly, as adults and role models for younger people, working on ourselves to continually improve our own attitudes and develop our value system is fundamental.
If we look at life as a journey in learning, self-discovery and self-improvement by way of awareness of ourselves and our reactions, then endurance becomes a skill that we can acquire, cultivate and perfect over the course of our lives. And our openness to being coached and to learning is often the key to success!