Teaching Kids to Deal with Failure
To cope with the unexpected is a life skill that warrants more attention than ever before and as adults be it teachers or parents, combing forces may just save a lot of heart ache as these children face situations later on in life.
Communication Remains the Key
‘Talk to children about different situations and comfort them through their anxious moments. Some children are more resilient, and because adults ‘assume’ that they can deal with ‘anything’, important signs are missed out. So be vigilant and communicating with neutral expectations would be easier for the child to accept failures. For example, wishing your child the best and ‘to have fun’ just before he heads out for sports day, as opposed to ‘go and win’ sets a different tone altogether. The child will strive to do his/her best, unfortunately only 3 make it to the victory stand!! But the neutral communication, will let him know his parents will be okay with any outcome, and he does learn to accept that some outcomes may be different and not all of them would be victory medals.
School leaders and teachers can create simulations for students in their classrooms as ‘learning opportunities’ specifically creating ‘failures’ as outcomes and walk them through some things not working out. Guiding students to accept these failures will teach them by example and also, once the child ‘reflects’ on the process as they often say, ‘you learn by experience only’ will help them mirror strategies the next time they present themselves.
Reward the process
As adults we need to create more ‘rewards’ for the effort – like the sports day example, a participation certificate for being the most enthusiastic athlete although the child finished last. The child learns to value his contribution and also appreciates that he could not go over the finish line but it is not the ‘end of the world’.
Often we forget as adults to share our imperfections with the children. We all have them and have experienced it in some way or the other – what helped us cope? And sometimes a ‘good-ol- cry’ can be that strategy. By sharing to allow the child to know that he super hero Dad or Mum have their challenges to and everyone has to go through the journey. But everyone does, and they adopt different ways. Sometimes consulting an expert, or asking for help from a friend, or reading can be the solution.
Wish there with some sure shot strategies that we could package for these children in some magic box. Life is what it is and there are enough good moments for all the failure, and children need to value this balance!
About the Author
Fatima Agarkar, Educationist & Co-Founder – KA EduAssociates