Perseverance: An lesson from my 5 year-old

22 February 2024

My daughter takes taekwondo. Her belt test was last night, where she was aiming to earn her orange belt.

The test started with warm-ups and a specific sequence of moves. She and her classmates have been practicing this for the last couple of months. She was great.

The test ended with each student breaking a board in front of the class. At her level, she needed to kick the board to break it.

Now, some context: My child is 5. Her balance on one foot could use some work. Her kicks are on the more gentle side. This was the part of the test that she (and I!) was nervous about.

When it was her turn to break the board, she walked to the front of the class. She faces her instructor. She bowed. “Focus, sir! Confidence, sir!” she yelled. And then, she kicked. She touched the board, but it did not break.

She kicked again. And again. And again. And again.

The board did not break.

She was asked to take a break and give her foot a rest. She sat down, facing the front, which means her back was to the parent audience. I could still see she was not happy. Surprisingly, she did not cry.

At the end of the test, she got another chance to break the board. “Focus, sir! Confidence, sir!” She kicked. A small strip of the board broke off. Some of us giggle, but she is beaming. She broke the board!

This was by far the hardest board breaking she has ever experienced and many parents had ever seen. She knows she wasn’t the best, but she kept trying and trying and, in the end, she succeeded.

If a 5 year-old can maintain that kind of perseverance, so can an adult. Sometimes, things don’t work out the first time. But, if you don’t give up, eventually, you will break that board.

A broken board sits on top of a table. The larger part of the board is standing up (propped up). In front of it is a folded, orange taekwondo belt. Leaning on the belt is the much smaller part of the broken board.

P.S. I am super proud of my kid!