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TIPS ON HOW TO HELP CHILDREN LEARN THAT IT’S OK TO FAIL

The summer holidays are over and it’s back to a new school year for the children.

Some are moving from junior to senior school.

Some are moving into their GCSE year.

Others from GCSE to 6th form and A levels

And others are off to Uni.

Each new year brings with it new challenges, opportunities and obstacles - successes, failures and navigating life’s obstacles.

And this got me thinking - how do we prepare children for this?

So I’ve put together a few tips you may find helpful to help your children manage failure

Normalise Failure: Tell them that failure is a natural part of life. Everyone faces setbacks and makes mistakes at some point. It's not a reflection of their worth but an opportunity to learn and improve.

Share Personal Stories: Tell them about when you failed and how you learnt from those failures. This makes you more relatable and shows them that even us adults face challenges and setbacks.

Encourage a Growth Mindset: Teach them about the concept of a growth mindset, where abilities and intelligence can be developed through effort and learning. Emphasise that failure is a stepping-stone on the path to improvement and thereby success.

Set Realistic Expectations: Help them set goals that are not only do-able but also achievable. Unrealistic goals can lead to failure and hence not only a fear of failure but a “never even attempt” attitude. Break larger goals into bite size and manageable steps to reduce the fear of overwhelming failure.

Positive Reinforcement: When they do fail, offer positive reinforcement. Praise their effort, resilience and the lessons they've learned rather than focusing on the failure itself.

Constructive Feedback: Teach them how to analyse their failures constructively. Encourage them to ask questions like "What went wrong?" “What did I do wrong?” and "How can I do better next time?" This promotes a problem-solving attitude.

Encourage Out of School Activities: Encourage teenagers to participate in extracurricular activities they are passionate about because these often involve challenges and setbacks, which will be excellent learning tools.

Mentorship: If you can, get them in touch with mentors, coaches or role models who can share their experiences with failure and success. Hearing from others can be inspiring and educational.

Failure is Not Final: Emphasise that failure is not the end of the road but a detour to success. They can always reassess, adjust their approach and try again.

Create a Supportive Environment: Give them an environment where they feel safe to take risks and make mistakes without fear of harsh judgment. Let them know that you are there to support and guide them.

Encourage Resilience: Teach them resilience by helping them bounce back from failure. Discuss strategies for managing stress, setbacks and disappointments. 

Congratulate Effort and Progress: It’s so important to congratulate not only their successes but also their efforts and progress. Recognise their hard work and determination regardless of the outcome.

Use Inspirational Examples: Share stories of famous individuals who faced multiple failures before achieving success. Highlight that many successful people attribute their growth to their failures.

Encourage Self-Reflection: Encourage them to keep journals or engage in self-reflection exercises. This helps them process their experiences, identify patterns, and set goals for improvement.

Promote Perseverance: Emphasise the value of perseverance and the idea that success often comes to those who keep trying, even in the face of failure.

Don’t Compare to Others: Comparing ourselves to others’ success is a road to anxiety and failure. None of us look like each other on the outside, so why should our abilities be the same as each other. Each one of us has our own individual special strengths and these should be embraced, cultivated and encouraged.

It’s not important that we fall down, what is important is that we dust ourselves off and carry on, on the learning journey road, adjusting our behaviour flexibly to achieve the desired result.

Simply by actioning these tips you can help teenagers develop a healthier perspective on failure, allowing them to embrace it as an opportunity for personal growth and resilience-building.

And lastly emphasise that “There is no such thing as failure only feedback” so as to learn, grow and flourish

I do hope you’ve found this helpful - should you have any questions etc please don’t hesitate to ping me.

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