Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The freedom to fail

Youngsters need to learn early that every new effort carriers some risk of failure. Help your child to understand that disappointments and frustrations happen to everyone, children and grownups alike, and are nothing to be ashamed of, let her know that making an honest effort to perform a task is in itself grounds for feeling proud, and express your confidence that she will succeed on the next try, or perhaps the time after that. Show her ways to approach a challenge if she is having trouble on her own. For example, if your daughter returns with her toothbrush when you have asked her to bring her brush and comb, you could say:”Thank you for going to look. Let’s go together, not and find that brush and comb.”  In this way you focus on the process and the correct result, rather than on her performance and the mistake.
Decision making is another critical skill your youngster needs guidance in. To a young child, making choices can seem to be a life or death matter. Help demystify the process by giving your youngster opportunities to make simple choices in inconsequential matters. For example, you can invite your four year old to choose between two sweaters when you are shopping, or let her decide where to put the balloons for her sister’s birthday party. Encourage her to think out loud about her reasons, so that she sees herself as a person who uses her head.