Babies learn a lot about how to behave from the cues they observe from the other people around them. According to the results of a new study, this may also be connected to their drive to push through failure and attempt to achieve a goal. This is an important trait for infants to learn, as other studies have found that school-aged children who learn to push through initial failures are more successful later in life. Adults may be role models for infants to learn perseverance and the ability to persist when faced with failure.
Babies also may be able to absorb abstract concepts about how to behave by observing adults push through setbacks.
In a study done by by Julia Leonard and her colleagues, the researchers measured how long 15 month-old children persisted at a task after seeing adults exert variable amounts of effort. One group of infants watched an adult succeed at one of two tasks – either opening a container or removing a toy from a key ring – after struggling for thirty seconds. A second group of infants watched adults do these tasks quickly and with no effort. The third group was the baseline group and didn’t observe any demonstration by the adults.
Next, the babies were presented with a different task – activating a toy music box by pressing a non-functional button. The infants who had watched the adults struggle and succeed made more attempts to activate the box than those who observed adults making little effort or the baseline condition.
These results show that babies truly do learn from their surroundings, and are influenced by how adults act around them. This is important for parents and any other adults working with babies to understand as they subconsciously teach perseverance to the infants around them.