It’s sad to note that young as our elementary school children are, many of them already have this fear of failure that manifests itself in debilitating anxiety when taking tests, competing in a sports activity or performing in recitals. Needless to say, we parents need to help them overcome their fear of failure, or it will saddle them throughout their lives. In an article for Greater Good, Vicki Zakrzewski shares some tips that will help our children overcome fear of failure.
Praising effort helps overcome fear of failure
According to Zakrzewski, parents need to praise effort more than the ability itself. This is a point that has been continuously given emphasis in this blog. Instead of commending their “innate” ability, parents should praise their effort because studies have shown time and again that any feedback that recognises effort motivates students and actually makes then believe they can succeed.
People who fear failure tend to be a little too hard on themselves, and that’s why Zakrzewski suggests that we should encourage our children to practice self-compassion when they fail. We need to make our children understand that failure is part of the human experience, and that’s why we should extend some compassion to ourselves when we do fail.
Citing UC Berkeley professor Martin Covington, Zakrzewski says we need to talk with students—our children—about the impact their fear of failure could have in their lives. We need to make them understand that it’s alright to fail, that it’s how we deal with it that really matters. Hopefully, such a talk would create changes in their attitude towards schoolwork, and help them take control of their young lives.
Click here to read the article in full.