By Rohan Parikh, Director, The Green Acres Academy
Failure is not always a bad thing. In fact failure should be used as an opportunity to teach children that they can learn and grow from it. Competition in schools, and later in the real world, can have an adverse effect on children, which is that when they fail at a task, they are unable to cope with the anxiety that comes with it. Which is why it is becoming increasingly necessary for schools to teach students how to accept their failures and even in fact that they can benefit from them. A child who is not able to appropriately balance the negative feelings that come with not having achieved their task, or failing at a task, will be filled with stress and anxiety. And oftentimes these feelings lead to children either acting out or worse, giving up on it. Which is why schools should instill values of resilience and perseverance in the kids.
A few ways in which schools can achieve this are:
Connect and encourage the child
Instead of a quick response like “It’s OK, you can do better next time”, try a more empathetic approach “I know how much this meant to you”. Acknowledging that the child is feeling angry and disappointed is a very important step. Do not invalidate the child’s feelings or emotions.
Use it as a teaching moment
Every failure should be seen as opportunity to learn and problem solve. Ask the child if there was something they could have differently, maybe studied a little harder for an exam, or put in a little more practice before a match, or something else. Give the child the chance to come up with his own list of possible solutions to what he/she things can be differently to result in a more satisfactory outcome.
Encourage students to try new things
Children will naturally do things that they are good at and which gives them gratification. Encourage students to try something new and unknown to them, something they may not excel at. It’s important for children to learn that there are few things that they may not be good at, and that it’s OK to not be good at everything. Encourage effort just as much as you encourage success.
Manage expectations and set realistic goals
There will always be a situation where a trip gets cancelled or a specific toy the child wanted may not be available. Instead of guaranteeing things to children, they should be presented as possibilities. That way the child’s anticipation and eagerness is within manageable limits and the child can understand and minor setbacks and disappointments are a part of life.
There is of course a fine line between parents and teachers helping students the correct amount and aiding in them in doing things themselves which they may not have been able to otherwise, and helping them too much where they learn that others will just do the tasks for them. Schools need to have just the right balance which will help students take on new endeavours and overcome obstacles and yet, not be derailed when a situation turns out differently that they had managed.