In order to learn, you have to accept that you will have failures and make mistakes along the way. Children don’t know this. Children often think that they are rubbish at things if they make mistakes. When they make a mistake they can feel defeated and want to give-up. Share stories of the mistakes you made as you learnt. Share stories of famous inventors, sports people and business owners who had failures and mistakes along the path to learning and achieving. Too many people are so afraid of making a mistake that they never begin. Learning involves taking risks because the reality is that getting it wrong a few times on the path to getting it right is normal and expected. Teach your children this.
Resilience means being able to bounce-back after mistakes and failures. Many people make the mistake of thinking that resilience is a personality trait that you either have or haven’t got. This is not true. Resilience is a process and anyone can learn it. To be resilient, you would first ask yourself what you learnt from the mistake you made or the problem you have. Then ask yourself what you would do differently next time and what your first step will be to getting over the mistake. Ask your children these questions and help them to develop a resilient mindset. They can then learn that setbacks can be overcome.
Learners have to know how to pay attention. When you learn, you are taking in new information and trying to remember and use it. You have to be able to pay attention in order to watch, feel or listen to the information coming in from the person you are learning from. Firstly, ensure that your child is well fed, rested and has had enough to drink. Help your child to increase their attention span by playing memory games such as hiding one object from a tray and seeing if they can tell which one has gone. Do word searches, and read ‘Where’s Wally?’ books. Play word tag by picking a category (animals, foods, etc.) and say a word in that category (cat.) The next person must then think of a word that begins with the last letter of the word (tiger) that was said before. Or play puzzles, board games and tell stories to each other.
Praise your child for the effort that they put into learning, not the achievement of the learning goal itself. If people are praised for their achievement or told that they are really clever, then they learn to take less risks because they become afraid of not doing well or being seen as not clever or special. If a child is praised for the effort that they made, then even if they don’t achieve the goal, they can still feel good about themselves for the amount of effort they put in.
Teach your child to ask questions and to ask for help if they don’t understand. Parents, teachers and coaches are there to support them. Some people believe that asking for help is a sign of weakness. It is just the opposite. If a child learns to identify what they need, to ask a clear question to find out what they need to know and then accept help from others, then they learn the power of collaboration and the value of seeking out great resources.
First published in the Croydon Advertiser on 24th May 2013
Copyright of Beginner2Winner Ltd (GB 7187199), all rights reserved, 2013.