No student likes to perform poorly at school; nobody enjoys finding out that they have not achieved their goals. Nobody likes to fail. For students, failure does not always just mean getting an F on a test or an exam; it could mean getting negative comments on their attitude in their reports, achieving an average mark when they expected an excellent mark, getting a detention, receiving negative feedback, or simply failing to hand in all of their assignments on time.
When I was at school, I had moments like these, moments in which I felt upset or disappointed with myself. Fortunately, I had some very clever parents. They taught me that making mistakes was an important part of education. They told me that every failure was an opportunity to learn something new, and to improve next time. Failing to achieve your goals is an unpleasant experience, but today I will share the top 4 ways that you can help your child to use their mistakes to their advantage.
1. Taking Responsibility
There is one very easy way to spot a student who will be successful. They are not necessarily the ones that always get perfect marks on their tests and assignments; they are the ones who take responsibility for their own failure and their own success. The worst thing a student can say when they receive a bad mark is “the teacher marked me too harshly” or “everyone else in the class did badly too” or “this test doesn’t matter anyway.” By contrast, good students are the ones that know that they are in control of their performance at school. The teacher can only do so much; it is the student who must work hard, try new approaches, plan their own study schedule and set their own goals.
Whenever your child performs poorly at school, ask them what they can do better to improve next time. This doesn’t mean you should load blame on them; instead encourage them to think about what their goals are, what they might be doing wrong at the moment and what they can do to reach their goals more effectively in the future.
2. Becoming Flexible
Famous American inventor, Thomas Edison, famously said “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” One of the main reasons that Edison was so successful in his endeavours was that he always viewed failure as an opportunity. Every time he made a mistake, he learned not to repeat it.
A good student understands that failure is not a sign that they should give up; it is a valuable lesson about what works and what does not. A good student thinks about what they have done, why it has been unsuccessful, and decides to try something new. They might create a new study schedule, use a new way of memorising notes, or form a study group. They might realise that their way of approaching a particular question does not always work, and that they need to learn new techniques. The important thing is, in all cases, they have learned something new that will help them be more successful next time.
It is a good idea to encourage your child to analyse their successes and their failures. What factors might have influenced their performance? What does/doesn’t work? Is their something they can try next time?
3. Finding Your Limits
A student that is always pleased with their performance is a student who doesn’t push their limits. I knew many people in school who easily got As and Bs on every test. They never really slacked off, but they never pushed themselves either. They never had to experience failure. They were comfortable. Unfortunately, comfortable does not equal success.
If your child always sets goals that they can easily achieve, then they might not be aiming high enough. A student who is easily getting Bs on all of their tests should aim for an A. A student who is always getting As should aim to get 100%. They may not succeed at first, but they will have a clearer idea of what it will take to succeed next time.What’s more, they will be reminded that there are things that they still don’t know, things they still have to learn. The best way to motivate a student is to set them a goal that is just beyond their reach; it is about finding a goal that is achievable, but not so much so that they can immediately succeed.
4. Getting Motivated
When a student receives a disappointing mark on a quiz or an assignment, they will have one of 2 possible reactions:
- I studied hard and I still got a bad mark. What’s the point in trying?
- I got a bad mark. I want to do better than this. I’m going to make sure I do better next time.
Guess which student will end up performing better when it comes to exam time? As a parent, one of the greatest gifts you can give your child is the ability to be motivated by failure. This can be as easy as helping your child set new goals and focus on what’s next. It’s easy to fixate on a poor performance, but it is important to encourage your child to believe that they have the ability to do better next time. Do not punish failure, but use it as a chance to talk about goals and motivation.
The key to success, especially for students, in understanding that failure is not the end. It is an opportunity to learn, grow and perform better in the future. And I am not the only one who thinks so. To prove it, I will leave you with my 5 favourite quotes about failure, from 5 extremely successful individuals throughout history.