Sometime ago I was walking to my office on the Brigham Young University (BYU) campus. As I was walking I started thinking about an experience I had with my Grandmother Cazier in 1966. I had just graduated from high school and was preparing to go to Italy for 2½ years. The day before leaving she gave me a $2.00 bill and a bit of advice1.
She told me to keep it in my wallet and as long as I kept it there I would never be broke. I was not exactly sure what she was trying to tell me but that $2.00 bill is still in my wallet.
As I thought about this experience I wondered if there was a symbolic message that would apply today. As I pondered this I realized that as long as I kept a $2.00 thought in my mind, I would never be intellectually broke.
My success in completing my PhD (as an old man of 64) depended on what I put in and used and what I kept out (discouragement, etc.) of my mental bank account. I worked hard to earn my degree. It may sound trite but the reality is that without making regular deposits into my mental bank account I would have never earned my degree.
As parents it is important to help our children understand that the resiliency skills of commitment, perseverance, and hard work must be deposited regularly into their mental bank account. This deposit begins with a $2.00 deposit called desire and from this skill we can help them develop other skills they need to succeed.
1Calvert F. Cazier Journal, April 23, 2008.
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It’s never too early or too late to start encouraging your child to work hard and keep trying. Make it a habit to notice what they are trying to accomplish and praise their effort and their willingness to stick with it and try again. Say it out loud! Let them hear your praise. Start now, whether your child is just learning to sit up or walk, or whether your child is learning to tie their shoes, play a sport or an instrument, or writing a term paper. “Wow, you tipped over, you fell down, you missed the first ball, you got the first paragraph done…and then you hung in there and kept going.” “Try again; stretch yourself just a little bit more.” “Whatever happens, when you give it a good hard try, that’s success.” As the poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou said, “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”