School Competitions : 7 Ways to Turn Failure Into Success

by Nindo Mom on April 30, 2011

After months of practicing advanced math for hours every week, my fourth-grader’s math team finally had their big day today. Out of 20 teams, their team didn’t place in the top five. Beyond that, they have no idea how they did. All they know is that they didn’t win, despite all their hard work.

For many kids–and plenty of moms and dads, too–not winning is the same as losing, which equates to failure. And as often as not, parents (who are just grown-up kids, after all) may also feel their kids failed (or “blew it,” or “screwed up,” making their kids feel even worse.

Don’t let this happen!

The last thing you want is for your child to equate hard work with a sense of failure or disapproval from you. This kind of negative association will only lead to an aversion to competition in the future–or worse, an aversion to learning, itself.

You DO want for your child to feel pleased with their efforts and to look forward to the next competition. You want your child to eagerly anticipate the opportunity to improve on his or her performance. So instead of showing any disappointment in your child whatsoever, or in the results of the competition, let them know that you love them and that you are proud of them.

A few things of which to remind your child to keep him or her . . .

Thinking–and Feeling–Positive:

  1. There is NO FAILURE when one does one’s best.
  2. Mistakes today are opportunities to learn and get better.
  3. A single performance does not define a person–or his or her knowledge.
  4. Having the courage to test yourself is an accomplishment, in itself.
  5. Identifying and addressing difficulties this time around will vastly improve performance next time.
  6. No one is perfect! But everyone can get better, as long as they believe in themselves.
  7. You, your child’s mom (or dad), are proud of them and will love them, no matter what!

It’s important to . . .

celebrate your child’s hard work and devotion

. . . to practice moreso than their performance on any given day–even competition day. Ways to celebrate your child’s efforts, regardless of how the place in the competition, might include:

  1. giving a small gift
  2. taking your child out to a special lunch
  3. doing a special, fun activity together with your child after the competition
  4. going out for a fancy dessert with your child–even if it’s the middle of the day
  5. talking about and planning for the next extracurricular activity for which your child can sign up

Remember that above all else, you want your child to continue to be excited about learning new things–and about opportunities to practice and perform what they’ve learned. Only this way will your child be inspired to learn as much as possible in the future–and to do so because it’s what they want, rather than something they’re being forced to do.

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