Fear of failure stems from an early age, rooted possibly by parents who were not supportive when their kids needed help carrying some of the weight off of them when they got thrown down by the hefty load of failure.Some were mocked at class by their teachers for raising their hand and daring to ask a question. Some were called stupid or were told that they will never amount to anything. Some were told they couldn’t do anything alone. Some were laughed at by their friends.
When a child brain is still developing and is being raised by parents who expect too much or offer them love according to their achievements and performances it can have a substantially negative impact on child emotional and mental growth.
How a child’s parent or teacher chose to view a failure will leave an imprint in the child psyche it can either motivate him/her to learn from their mistakes or view it as an irreparable disaster in that case a child approach to learning can have a negative effect. Parents and teachers need to deliver a delicate feedback when need be to evaluate a child skill.
Dr. Michou said in a study published in British Psychological Society (BPS) that “teachers and parents have to be more sensitive to the rational they provide to children to adopt a goal or engage in an activity. Suggesting children to improve their skills for their own enjoyment and development is much more beneficial than suggesting them to improve their skills in order to prove themselves.”
Short cuts or easy way outs are quite common with kids and adolescences who were most effected by their failures. Unconsciously their purpose is to protect their ego whether by avoiding taking risks or cheating to get to where they want to be. Realising missteps and obstacles are not fatal and believing that time and effort using effective strategies will help them develop their skills without feeling like failures or frauds is pleasurably fulfilling.
According to author David Putwain “Teachers are desperately keen to motivate their students in the best possible way but may not be aware of how messages they communicate to students around the importance of performing well in exams can be interpreted in different ways,” carefully wording the motivational speech to prepare them for future shouldn’t be negatively packed. Offer them realistic expectations without letting them look down the edge, helping their shaken confidence to believe they can make it and shut off their grown internalised fear.
Adopting a more compassionate approach and offering a positive safe house atmosphere to be vulnerable can shield kids when they fall. Believing in them and their aspiration at an early age will help them set goals without backing out of them for fearing that they might get ridiculed and end up to feel like losers.
Perfectionists whether it was inherited or if it came about from disappointing or not meeting our parents’ expectation, have a fear of flaws. Failing to perfect at everything might feed into their doubts that they are not competent.
Excitement and motivation is healthy, almost necessary for the task to reach it desired goals. However, if we weren’t prepared for an undesired outcome then the doubt comes to work and plays into insecurity of being not good enough.
The mantra of shame and guilt starts hamming until you realise that failure is the gateway to growth and innovation.
Originally my piece was published at the column page at the Khaleej times newspaper