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The Secrets to Raising a Smarter Child
- By Inderbir Sandhu, Ph.D


Helping Children Overcome Fear of Failure - Practical Tips and Suggestions

By Andrew Loh

Why intense fear of failure should be given utmost attention to? This is a dicey and tricky question that you might ask. Unless your children are able to overcome the fear of failure, they may not  achieve satisfactory results. Normally, the fear of failure in children produces a series of negative and adverse thoughts that eventually reduce your children's actual strengths and potentialities. Fear of failure can tie down your children's mind. It can make your children mentally weak and tired. In fact, it can make them incapable of achieving anything in life, even though they are capable of reaching the highest levels of success.

Avoiding failure in life is almost impossible. Failures always occur in everyone's life. Children are not different; in fact, they are more prone to experience failure than adults. The reasons for children experiencing failures are very obvious. Young children grow and develop everyday including the brain and its essential functions. Several social skills like reasoning, thinking and imagination are rudimentary in a young child's life. Children often take their time to develop these skills that help them devise strategies and methods to overcome failures.

Avoiding failure is a tough challenge. Children can learn that they can avoid failure in four different ways:

Children not taking any part in any type of activities in which they fear failure

If they do not take part in any activities, they will never face failure. However, this is a negative attitude on part of children. Whatever the outcome, children should take part in any type of activities that provide them an opportunity to reach success levels. Success does not come so easily. Success always succeeds well calibrated and well-tuned effort.

Hence, parents may need to convince their children that failure is inevitable in life, at least during some occasions, and they can get success after some incidents of failures. Parents may also need to ensure their children that repeated attempts will eventually equip them with the capability to attain unqualified success.

Example: Children learning how to ride a bicycle is a classical example of attaining success. Children can never learn bicycling without falling down from a bicycle. In fact, children are bound to experience failure before tasting success. Parents may need to assure their children of success, when they are learning to ride a bicycle. Though extremely apprehensive of falling down from a bicycle, children still end riding on it, despite initial failures.

Taking risks is a common aspect of life

Talk to your children about the importance of taking risks to achieve something tangible in life. Unless someone takes some risks, they will never be able to achieve anything in life. When your children understand the criticality of taking risks, they will get ready to face several incidences of failure with a confident and energetic mind.

Incidences of failure should translate into significant learning experiences

Experience could be the best possible mentor. Previous bitter experiences will pave the way for future incidences of success.

Young children need lot of encouragement from their parents

Encouraging your children can help you raise their self-confidence and motivation. Parents may need to act as mentors or guides to dispel the fear of failure from their children's mind. Fear of failure is a psychological phenomena. Often, children may fear experiencing the success itself; experts believe that the price of attaining success is the challenge of retaining it and fear of losing it.

Leaving home aside, classroom and schools are two of the most important places for children. Most children love to go to school to mingle with their friends and teachers. However, peer pressure is very common in a typical classroom. Some children may not have the required ability to handle peer pressure, especially in sports, studies and tests. Some children may also develop an acute fear complex to compete with relatively brighter and smarter students,  who can score better marks and grades.

Parents must help their school going children from getting into the vicious trap of peer pressure and its dangerous aftermath. Constant encouragement and assistance can work like nutritious tonic to your children; the most important thing to consider here is to make your children develop self-image and self-esteem that eventually help them develop an urge or desire to compete with their peers. Parents may also need to teach their children several important self-talk words and phrases like:

  • "I can do it"

  • "I am capable"

  • "I have the ability"

  • "Fear is only temporary"

  • "Fear is not permanent"

  • "I can compete with others"

  • "I can participate"

  • "I am as good as my classmates"

Note: These words will help children who are in the age bracket of 10 to 15 years.

More often, one single incidence of success can help children break out of the cocoon and try again to repeat it. Once they know that they need not bow down to fear, they can easily make it a habit to repeat the act of attaining success in every endeavor of life. Two of the most important positive traits that drive out fear from our minds are self confidence and self belief. Once your children develop these positive traits, nothing can stop them from achieving success, from time to time and throughout their life.

Featured Resource

Freeing Your Child from Anxiety: Powerful, Practical Solutions to Overcome Your Child's Fears, Worries, and Phobias
By Tamar E. Chansky, Ph.D

If you are the parent of one of the millions of children with worry and anxiety: help is on the way. Anxiety is the number one mental health challenge facing our children today. Fortunately, there is good news for these kids and the parents who suffer along with them - anxiety disorders are also the most treatable mental health condition.

Treatment is not about trying to cajole or talk kids out of their fears; it's about teaching them to see worry as a problem to be solved. Translating cutting-edge techniques into down-to-earth, empathic, user-friendly steps, Freeing Your Child from Anxiety equips parents, teachers and therapists with the information they need to recognize the red flags of anxiety in children.


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