Teaching Kids to Deal With Failure


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Q: How can you teach kids to deal with failure? When my child brings home a bad grade, she freaks out. What can I do to help this situation?

A: Everyone likes to succeed. Who doesn't want to get the promotion, ace the quiz or be on the winning team? It is natural to be disappointed when you fail. Nevertheless, children have to learn to cope with failure, from losing a board game to failing a test. This does not mean accepting that they won't do well in an endeavor, but rather learning how to turn things around so they are successful most of the time.

When children get bad grades, it's usually because they simply have not mastered the material. For the most part, children need to improve their study skills. This can mean paying closer attention to what is said in class, reading and re-reading textbook materials, and consistently doing homework.

When your child brings home a bad grade, make it a habit to go over the paper or test with her after she has calmed down. Help her explore where she made mistakes and how she could have done better. Be sure to talk long and hard about the material that she handled correctly and why this happened. This is important. Also, it is essential that she correct all of the material that was incorrect so she can say: "Now I understand what the right answers are." By doing this, she will be able to handle the material when she sees it again, as usually happens.

School just gets harder and harder every year, so you want your child to begin to develop a "can do" attitude. You do not want her to become a child who gives up easily and expects to fail. Should there be an area in which your child is truly in over her head, get her help as soon as possible.

Parents should send questions and comments to dearteacher@dearteacher.com or go to dearteacher.com.

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