The Little Engine That Could: Lessons in Perseverance

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Remember that childhood story, “The Little Engine That Could”? This classic taught children about the power of perseverance.

Well, my little engine that could is my younger son, Max. His greatest struggle in life so far has been academic, due to a visual processing disorder that wasn’t diagnosed until he was 10 years old! (More on that in a future post!)

Although thousands of dollars later and months of vision therapy translated into academic gain (well worth the time and money spent),  an out of state move last November resulted in Max’s grades sliding back. It was as if he was about to fall off of a cliff into the sea….the warning letter from the school counselor stated that if my son didn’t clean up his act (well, that’s not quite how they phrased it, but in essence, that’s what he meant!), Max would have to repeat 7th grade.

 “If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.” (H.G. Wells)

What to do? I see on a daily basis in my 9-to-5 gig what happens when children transitioning into adulthood are not held accountable for their responsibilities. So it was out of the question that I would engage in helicopter parenting. Max’s low grades were due mostly to slacking off on homework assignments and poor organizational skills.

Strangely enough, the implicit threat of not being able to participate in Civil Air Patrol activities has played a major role in overcoming his academic struggles. Also, through Civil Air Patrol, he has learned that studying hard does reap rewards. Motivated to move up in the ranks and pass certain leadership tests, he did not give up when he did not pass his first test. Instead, fueled by his eagerness to do better and earn his rank, he studied hard and went from a score of 70% to 96%.

Copyright: michelangeloop / 123RF Stock Photo

My little engine that could learned through perseverance that:

  1. Hard work does pay off.
  2. Self-motivation and determination go a long way.
  3. Never give up!



This weekend, thanks to his perseverance (and improved grades), he participated in an overnight Emergency Awareness training/camping trip with his squadron and group.  Although he fell down yesterday (metaphorically), today my “little engine that could” is standing up!

Do you have any stories of how you (or your child) overcame a struggle thanks to perseverance? I’d love to hear from you!!






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