How Coding Helps Children Build Resilience and Persistence

Last Updated: August 1, 2023 1:41 pm
How Coding Helps Children Build Resilience and Persistence

Without a healthy dose of resilience, it’s unlikely that any project or task will get done. In fact, you could argue that resilience is more important than talent or IQ and that is definitely the case with resilient programming! As Albert Einstein famously said, “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”

Between the sheer determination that it takes to finish a new coding project through the process of debugging it when it’s done, computer programming is a great way to practice perseverance and, in doing so, develop resilience.

Kids are at a critical age when it comes to learning how to bounce back from frustrations and setbacks. They’re also quite adaptable. Giving them coding as a tool when they’re young will teach them how to persevere, instilling a resilience that will benefit them in future pursuits.

What does resilience mean in programming?

Being resilient when writing code is necessary because it enables you to effectively navigate the challenges and obstacles during the development process. Software development involves problem-solving, iterative improvements, and dealing with unexpected bugs or issues. A resilient mindset allows developers to persevere through these difficulties, maintain focus, and find creative solutions. Embracing resilience encourages continuous learning and adaptation, fostering professional growth and refining programming skills. Moreover, this mindset promotes collaboration and open communication within development teams, as resilient developers are more likely to seek feedback and support and share their experiences to achieve collective success. Resilient coders write resilience code — Resilience code refers to programming techniques and practices that enable a software application or system to withstand unexpected errors, failures, or adverse conditions and maintain its functionality with minimal disruption.

Perseverance vs. resilience: What is the difference?

Perseverance and resilience are interrelated but distinct concepts. Perseverance refers to determination and persistence in pursuing a goal, despite facing obstacles, setbacks, or difficulties. It is the unwavering commitment to keeping moving forward, regardless of the challenges. In contrast, resilience is the capacity to adapt, recover, and bounce back from adversity, stress, or failure. Resilience involves flexibility, adaptability, and coping with change or hardship.

While perseverance is focused on the steadfast pursuit of a goal, resilience emphasizes adapting and regaining equilibrium after encountering difficulties. Both traits are essential for personal and professional success.

How does coding encourage persistence and resilience?

Coding encourages persistence and resilience by requiring developers to tackle complex problems, troubleshoot errors, and continuously improve their skills. The iterative nature of software development demands patience and determination, as developers often face setbacks, bugs, and unforeseen challenges. Persisting through these obstacles helps build perseverance. Simultaneously, coding promotes resilience by requiring developers to adapt to changing requirements, technologies, and approaches. Finding creative solutions to problems, learning from failures, and refining code based on feedback fosters flexibility and adaptability. As a result, engaging in coding activities strengthens persistence and resilience, which are crucial skills for success in programming and beyond.

Here is a quick summary of the importance of persistence and resilience in writing code:

  1. Overcoming obstacles: Persistence and resilience help developers tackle challenges like bugs and errors, ensuring smooth project progression.
  2. Continual improvement: A persistent and resilient mindset fosters ongoing learning, skill development, and improved software quality.
  3. Adaptability: Resilience enables developers to adjust to evolving technologies, methodologies, and requirements, ensuring long-term success.
  4. Fostering collaboration: Persistent and resilient developers seek peer feedback, enhancing teamwork and collective problem-solving.
  5. Increased satisfaction: Demonstrating persistence and resilience leads to a sense of accomplishment as developers navigate challenges and deliver robust software.

In coding, failure is normal

Learning to code is a fantastic way to acquire the soft skill of resilience. The ability to bounce back from change or adversity stems from being able to persevere and display grit. Angela Duckworth, who defined the concept of grit and brought it to life through psychological studies, defines grit as “passion and perseverance for long-term goals.”

Although the importance of resilience and grit are generally agreed upon, people debate whether or not these are skills that can be “taught.” With coding, resilience isn’t a lesson imparted in a classroom setting – it’s a natural byproduct of the learning process. When kids and teens code, they know that failure is okay and that, in fact, it can serve as a learning opportunity!

Debugging as an opportunity to learn

Debugging is essential to coding. Sometimes adding in a missing semicolon in Java resolves a compile-time error, or perhaps rearranging a few Tynker blocks makes a project work. A study by Patrick J. Casey of the University of Hartford made a great point along this line of thinking, observing that “many of the skills required for successful programming are similar to those required for effective problem-solving.”

Because of the similar skill sets, Casey found that “computer programming – and particularly the act of debugging – provides a fertile field for developing and practicing problem-solving skills in an environment that is at once engaging and challenging.” It’s the recognition of errors – and the perseverance to resolve them – that builds resilience.

Young programmers talk resilience in coding

Young coders are aware of the need to develop and exhibit resilience. At the end of each Featured Maker interview, we ask our Featured Makers to give advice to other young programmers. Time and time again, they show a clear understanding of grit and express the importance of perseverance. Featured Maker Caitlin told us:

“Never give up! Even if something’s not working, there’s always a way around it or another thing you can do. If something is really giving you a hard time, just move on to something else and come back to it.”

This anything-is-possible attitude is a product of resilience – the very resilience that spurs kids to begin coding in the first place, gives them the determination to figure out solutions, and builds the stamina to stick with projects. For Featured Maker Yaamini, resilience is integral to coding:

“If something’s wrong, it’s fun for me to figure out; it’s like challenging myself. If there’s something wrong, it makes me more determined to fix it.”

Resilience is a programmer’s best friend through every step of the process. Featured Maker Timothy demonstrated grit when he said:

“I don’t know why, but my favorite project is the one I just can’t solve yet.”

There’s no way for educators and parents to know what challenges their students and children will face. However, giving them the tools to build resilience through coding is a great way to prepare them for college, a career, and for life!

Check out Tynker’s Coding Curriculum and learn more about inspiring the next generation to change the world through code.

If you enjoyed this article, see our other posts on Tynker’s blog page.

About Lomit Patel

Lomit Patel is the Chief Growth Officer of Tynker, with 20 years of experience helping startups grow into successful businesses. Lomit has previously played a critical role in scaling growth at startups, including Roku (IPO), TrustedID (acquired by Equifax), Texture (acquired. by Apple), and IMVU (#2 top-grossing gaming app). Lomit is a public speaker, author, and advisor, with numerous accolades and awards throughout his career, including being recognized as a Mobile Hero by Liftoff. Lomit's book Lean AI is part of Eric Ries' best-selling "The Lean Startup" series.