By PATRICK MCNAMARA
Everyone fails once in a while. This includes our children, but it can be tough for them. They want to make parents happy and proud. Many times children see failure as a major problem. It’s our job as adults, parents and educators alike, to show them failure can be a great chance for growth. We have some tips to help navigate you through this sometimes stressful topic.
- Chill. Our reactions are critical. When we fly off the handle about a poor grade, we risk pushing kids away when we need to keep them close. Keep calm, talk and most importantly listen.
- Identify the mistake. Ask the child what they think went wrong. They likely already know the answer before you ask, but if not, engaging them will help.
- Set goals. Work on a goal with specific actions and a time line together. Also set expectations to check the progress. Maybe the goal is to increase the next report card grade. What weekly or maybe daily task can help your child get there? Keep this realistic and attainable for your child so they don’t get discouraged. Maybe your goal is just to increase the study time and not a grade.
- Have rewards. Everyone is motivated by rewards, so your kids should have a couple to work towards. It doesn’t need to be extravagant, but it should be fun and motivating.
- Have consequences. Consequences work just as rewards do. You don’t want them to be too harsh, but they should be effective. Limiting screen time is a very effective consequence for most students.
- Have role models. Role models come naturally for kids. Besides the athletes and celebrities who get so much of our attention, show them realistic people who are already in their life too.
- Set a good example. Children should know adults have discouraging moments, too. Tell them a story of when you were disappointed because something didn’t go as planned. Explain how you worked to fix it. Children like to hear adults, especially parents, are human too. Seeing us stay positive and determined helps.
- Show how you’ve learned. Talk about experiences in your life when you’ve faced similar school-age setbacks, embarrassments, or flubs. Tell what you did to help yourself. Feeling less lonely is a step to increased confidence.
- Get help. Sometimes a little professional help is called for. If the algebra grade is still low even after increasing homework time, studying with friends, and really, really trying, it’s time to seek help.
- Stay involved. Know when major tests are given, when the science fair is being held, when important projects are due. Help your child stay organized and keep to their timelines. Let them take the lead and be responsible. However, if a little nagging is necessary don’t be afraid to do that too.