YOUR CHILD DID NOT GET THE RESULT THEY WANTED
In a world where expectations are high and beating the competition is the buzz word in all levels of life, how many parents are asking the question how do I help my child cope with failure. It is not long until the major results season hits us and there are always more than a few rattled children and parents at this time of year.
With legislation everywhere to improve standards and address children’s success and gauge how well they are learning, is it surprising that more children now than ever are suffering from the stress of performance expectations? Have we forgotten that failure is an inherent part of life and all it’s experiences as well as a critical part of learning?
Headlines such as 11 plus children needing psychological support for depression, and children responding dramatically to any type of pressure to succeed, have we forgotten an era where tests and more importantly their results, were not the be all and end all of life. Is this a sign of the demands in the world? Are our expectations realistic?
Playing in the street, staying outside all summer holidays, re-sits when you didn’t do as well as you wanted to were commonplace in my childhood. Are we becoming a world obsessed with success? At what cost?
I believe our children’s health, emotional balance and drive are affected by outcomes they achieve in school. How failure is handled by a parent is almost as critical as the result itself.
Pressure is on schools to turn out A** students at every test. With expectations this high, it’s hardly surprising that there are an ever increasing number of parents searching for solutions including ‘how do I help my child cope with failure’, or ‘how do I make absolutely sure my child succeeds’?
As a parent, I’ve had my fair share of school successes and failures.
I have always tried to consider the good and the bad as an opportunity to learn something, rather than to see results as a loss or a win.
What I hope for most of all as a parent, is that my children will look back on these times with a feeling that they at least took something experiential out of their results and not just the paper with grades on it. Good or bad.
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT HOW CHILDREN COPE WITH SUCCESS AND FAILURE?
Recent university studies show that children have two kinds of mindset when it comes to setbacks – either a GROWTH mindset or a FIXED mindset. In the studies, results demonstrated that children with a GROWTH mindset who believed that ability and intelligence are malleable or pliable, tended to cope much better with setbacks than children with a FIXED mindset who felt that ability and intelligence were inflexible or fixed. It’s up to us as parents to help nurture a growth mindset in order to help our children cope with all the future demands of life.
Tests such as MIDYIS, administered by Durham University, are an example of a test system not focused on a child’s learned ability, but more on their natural inherent characteristics and innate abilities. Are they looking for the mindset of growth or fixed in relation to intelligence? My guess is that they are at least aware of it. What a shame then that there is such a focus placed on end results rather than ability in mainstream education?
HOW IMPORTANT IS MY REACTION IN TERMS OF MY CHILD’S FAILURE
Parent reaction is an important factor in terms of considering failure as an opportunity to help a child learn something when they are in such a heightened state of emotion.
Love, care and nurture are healthy, healing approaches by a parent and are essential to helping your child feel ‘SAFE’ exposing how the feel about failure.
Creating an open forum to let your child vent and then talk about what happened and what may have contributed to them not doing as well as they wanted is also a positive step towards growing up and accepting responsibility. Physical warmth and lots of good hugs won’t go amiss here either. You are then nurturing the mind and the body equally.
Giving opinions and judging or comparing has to be avoided totally. There is no better way of deflating your child or their confidence than criticising them when they are already criticising themselves.
Be in their shoes – this is critical in so many areas of life, not just parenting. The famous saying ‘walk a day in another man’s shoes’ is a helpful reminder that you have to feel, observe, sympathise, understand and fully encompass all that your child is going through. If you can see through their eyes, not your mature eyes with life experience, then you will be much more able to empathise and comprehend the extremity of feeling your child is going through.
Unconditional support is the key to your child healing from their wounds of failure. You cannot measure how important unconditional love for your child is – unconditional support is equally critical at this sensitive time.
Go slow. Your child’s brain and emotions are most definitely working at a different pace than yours. They will go through various stages coming to terms with what they consider is letting you down, letting school down, letting themselves down, spoiling what they did before etc, etc. These thoughts all muddled in their brains will take time to dissect and deal with. Let your child take the time they need and just be there along the way.
HOW CAN NLP HELP ME HELP MY CHILD
In NLP terms heightened states are a great time to capitalise on opportunity. Neuro Linguistic Programming or NLP, offers strategies for coping, handling failure, confidence building and many other aspects relative to the concept of failure. As an NLP practitioner what I feel are the most useful tools are the variety of strategies that can be accessed at this critical time of reflection, that will help to ‘IMPLANT’ new responses to stressful situations, that will help your child cope better in future.
This can be done in a number of ways – anchoring a previous success in order to associate a good positive memory, visualisation to help a child walk through success and how it feels for them, removing overwhelm by teaching a child to break down (chunk) their feelings into smaller pieces and handle them one by one and many more. If you think NLP can help, find a practitioner close to you and make an appointment to discuss coping strategies for your child’s well being.
KEY POINTS TO HELPING YOUR CHILD NOT ONLY GET OVER FAILURE BUT THRIVE FROM THE LEARNING THEY GAIN
** Create a flexible, ‘growth’ mindset by encouraging your child to see that intelligence and ability are malleable and flexible and can change.
** Provide reason, support, listening and allow your child to go through the natural process of figuring out what went wrong.
** Encourage helpful strategies (potentially NLP) to change how your child views failure, tune them in to the feelings of success and help them cope with overwhelm.
** Never judge. Remember you were in this situation once and in your adult life judgement hurts. Apply this knowledge to your parenting and watch your child mature in front of you when they see that failure is part of learning and not beating themselves up emotionally.
** Set a good example. Let your child see how you cope with stress, failure, handling daily life problems etc. Coping strategies are learned not inherited and you are the best teacher for your child.
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