Children who learn from their mistakes will grow up into self-assured adults
EVERYONE makes mistakes – we adults know that for sure but not all children do. When a child makes a mistake or worse still, faces failure, we need to guide them through the experience in order for them to come out of it positively.
A child’s experience with a mistake or failure could lower his self esteem. The last thing you should do is react with disappointment, anger or impatience. Be calm when they make mistakes. Be calm when you make mistakes yourself, especially in their presence.
Teach them to have a more relaxed attitude and show them we can laugh at ourselves when we make mistakes.
Find opportunities in day-to-day activities to encourage them to view mistakes as opportunities to learn something new. Use creativity to turn the mistakes into acceptable outcomes if the situation allows it.
If your child has failed at something major, such as a test or exam, help him to cope with his feelings of low self-esteem, disappointment and sadness by showing him your unconditional love. Assure him that you love him regardless of how he performs. Tell him that you value his efforts.
Other practical ways to minimise the negative impact of such situations is to find out your child’s learning style.
Does your child learn best visually, kinestethically or audibly? Help him learn and work more effectively by using the style that suits him.
In learning math, for example, if he grasps the concepts better by using objects to count, provide him with suitable items to use. If he absorbs facts better by reading his textbook aloud, do not tell him to study quietly.
Failure is Part of Life
Share stories of your own past failures and successes to show him that failure and success are part and parcel of life. Tell him what you had learnt from the experience and what you did to overcome the mistakes. You could also tell him inspirational stories of famous people who overcame challenges and achieved success.
When something goes wrong and your child is responsible for it, avoid putting the blame on him.
Discuss what happened and encourage him to bring out the fighter in him to learn from the mistake, and not to give up too easily.
If your child has a fear of failure after a past experience, tell him that the only way to fail is to not try at all.
Finally, be sure of what your definition of success is. Does it mean being the best in everything they do and scoring the highest marks in every subject in school?
If so, when they are not the best and when you come down hard on them, will they be motivated to try again to be better, or to even dare to try anything new ever again?
While we all have dreams of our children being the best in everything they do, we have to be realistic of their abilities and talents. Think about what your child is capable of and set goals that are appropriate for his age, knowledge and skills.
Actually, they do not have to be the best in everything; they just have to try their best.