From the moment a new-born utters their first cry, life becomes a roller coaster ride. There are moments of triumph when your child’s hard work yields positive results, and you feel as though your chest would explode with immense pride. Even those precious ‘firsts’ – their first word, their first step, and every little thing in between – these little landmarks remain as moments that you forever cherish and look back on with a nostalgic sense of joy.
But life is no bed of roses and if there are sunny days, there are also a fair share of rainy days. And as much as you detest seeing your child feel sad, defeated & disappointed after a perceived setback, there might be moments wherein, between the whirlwind of emotions, you feel powerless to alleviate the pain that your child is experiencing.
Maybe your child put in a lot of effort for that competition but ended up performing below expectations. Maybe your child studied day and night tirelessly, skipping movie dates with their friends, but still scored lower than anticipated. Maybe your child is experiencing rejection of some kind. You might feel angry with the people who you believe were responsible for your child’s setback, or sympathize with them and try to console them. You might also get angry with them and give them an earful about how they ended up making the mistake that they did. While your purpose of doing so is clear and only to help them get over the feeling of defeat so that they can try again, you are actually intensifying that feeling for the long run.
Setbacks are the foundation of success. Do you remember? Your child probably fell down multiple times before they took their first steps. Think back and you’ll realize that there would have been times when they fell down, cried & eventually got up, only to persistently keep on trying. If after the first few falls, you had tried to stop them from making any further attempts at walking for the fear of falling down or getting hurt, what do you think would have happened?
Every single setback just means that they are getting one step closer to being successful. Even when your child encounters a setback and feels low about it, setbacks are a proof that they are trying at least. Failures are a proof that they are working. No failure clearly means that there is no work being put in that area.
Continuous setbacks means that they are moving a step closer every single time and all that you need to do, is remind them that even the smallest tasks that they have achieved so far only came after certain setbacks. These tasks could be as small as when they started speaking, walking, or even writing their first few words. Everything that used to seem impossible once, they now perform each one of those tasks with such ease today. Instead of being disappointed by the setbacks, all they need to do is figure out how to get better.
There are many ways in which you might try to protect your child from experiencing disappointments due to setbacks. You might try to gloss over the situation by simply reiterating how innately talented they are. Or you might want to find another individual to blame or who could take the responsibility of the failure. Instead, you need to help them rise from where they are.
Usually after a setback - we look for something to apportion the blames to, we try to find someone we can share the responsibility of the failure with. Beware of doing so with your child. The moment you get them to put the responsibility of a setback on someone else’s shoulders, they would always try to find someone else to take the blame whenever they face a setback in the future. Instead of blaming others or even the situation, the greatest win in a setback lies in taking responsibility for what happened and working towards making it better. Teach them to take responsibility from day one and allow them to think about what happened, why it happened & what can be done to fix it.
When you sympathize with someone, you place that person at a level below yourself and feel sorry for them. Doing so when somebody is experiencing strong emotions doesn’t help them at all. It makes them feel like a victim. If while helping your child deal with setbacks you don’t want them to feel victimized, share your experiences of dealing with setbacks with them. Try to recall a similar situation that you were once in, and share that situation with them by saying, “I understand how you feel, because I have also been through this.” Reassure them by saying, “I know it’s hard, but I know a person as strong as you, can come out of it.: Comfort them instead of pitying them.
Don’t try to sugar-coat the situation by saying, “Oh, it’s not an issue. You’ll do well next time.” Instead try saying, “Let’s identify the issue”, and allow them a chance to think deeper and accept what happened. Don’t put them in an illusion by saying that it’s not an issue no matter how small the setback may be. Because tomorrow, you don’t want your child dealing with the more important things in life as if they were not an issue. Even though you may not mean it, saying, “It’s not an issue” is a way for you to encourage your child to avoid facing their failures in life.
Sit together with your child and help them evaluate what went wrong. Help them identify the area that led to the setback. Maybe they didn’t fully understand or properly execute an aspect of the concerned activity. Identifying the cause of the failure helps to tackle the issue from its roots. Encourage your child to pin-point the issue and work on solving it. Not doing so would make your child likely to encounter the same setback again and again which would end up making them feel that they are incapable of doing the concerned activity.
Focusing on the effort benefits nobody. Help your child focus on the result so that they can maneuver the effort to achieve the desired result. This will help them think of new ways & creative ideas to do things. They will then redirect their efforts so as to accomplish their aim. Try not to put more focus on the effort if you are not very sure about the outcome.
Setbacks happen. It is a part and parcel of life. You are not always going to be successful; there are moments when you will fail. You have to remember & remind your child that failure is not something to be sad about because failing clearly means that you are working towards something. Someone who does not work towards something would not fail. Encourage your child to view failure & setback with optimism. Thomas Edison failed almost a 1000 times before he created the light bulb. If he were to stop because of the first few setbacks, he would have continued to sit in the dark. Scientists, sportspersons, doctors, artists – they have all failed before becoming legends. We know Michael Jordan because of his all-around great basketball ability. But do we know how many failures he encountered? Ask yourself and encourage your child to ask themselves this same question - “Has there ever been a successful person who did not encounter failure?”
What does failure mean to you? Tell us in the comments below.
Want additional help to encourage your child to view setbacks as the foundation of success? Join our Zenith MasterMind session. Visit https://www.zenithschoolofleadership.co/Zenith-MasterMind-membership to know more.