Children Persist Less When Adults Take Over

Julia Leonard:

Children need to learn to persist through challenges, yet adults sometimes step in to solve problems for them. Here, we looked at how adult taking over related to children’s persistence. In an observational study (N = 34, ages 4–8), we found that parents who took over more often during a challenging puzzle task rated their children as dispositionally less persistent. To establish whether taking over can cause reduced persistence, we ran two preregistered experiments (N = 150, ages 4–5). Children assigned to a taking over condition persisted less on a subsequent task compared to those in a teaching or a baseline condition. Reframing the context did not ameliorate the negative impact of taking over. The results suggest that taking over impairs children’s persistence.