Your child left his wallet at home today, and you saw it when you got back home after dropping him off at school – do you make a quick trip back to his school to pass him his wallet so he won’t go hungry at recess?
Or your preschooler had a quarrel with her best friend in school, which resulted in an “I don’t want to be your friend anymore!” and your child wants you to intervene and make things right.
According to Kinderland teacher Ren Ke Xian, helping your child deal with setbacks properly, instead of avoiding them or jumping in to rescue them, contributes to the child’s emotional, intellectual and social development.
This is a view widely held by other childhood experts, who advocate less coddling and more freedom for children to explore options and problem solve on their own. When parents try all means to protect their children from the possibilities and consequences of failure, they are ultimately depriving them of an experience that will shape them to be better able to face the very real challenges of their teen and adult years.
While parents may appreciate the importance of building up their children’s resilience, many wonder what they can tangibly do in such scenarios.
Ms Ren offers steps you can take to help your child cope with failure.
1. Be supportive
Have an open discussion with your child about the reason behind the failure to see how you could work together to overcome the area of weakness. It is crucial to emphasise that errors and failing are part of learning; they could use this as an opportunity to learn and grow instead of fixating on their failure. Offer help when necessary but it is also important to step back and let your child cope in their own way.
Having caring and understanding authoritative figures who are responsive to a child’s needs help to foster a positive learning environment in which the child can thrive. The teachers at Kinderland strongly believe in delivering constant encouragement to children who face setbacks at the centre.
2. Work out a progress plan
Set realistic targets for your child and recognise when they have accomplished these goals or have made progress in their learning journey. This helps to boost the child’s confidence. Allocate more time on weaker areas so that they can further improve on these aspects.
3. Make time for play
Allowing children time for play is one of the best ways of helping them develop self-confidence, which in turn contributes to their ability to deal with failure. If opportunities for play are scarce in your child’s daily routine, work out a schedule together that balances time for work and play. This is also a chance for you to teach your child how to develop organisational skills, responsibility and time management.
4. Be a good role model
It is important for parents to handle their own disappointments with grace, as children learn from what they see at home as well. How do you handle failure? Your children will catch more than what they are taught by watching you.
Apologising when you make mistakes, for example, is a small way that demonstrates responsibility for your actions. It also tells your child that adults also make mistakes, and that it is acceptable to err sometimes.
By Dorothea Chow