A survey conducted by UNICEF and Gallup in early 2021 among the age group of 15–24 found that one in seven people in this age range in India often feels depressed or has little interest in doing things. Furthermore, in an epidemiological study from India, 14.5% of adolescents were found to be suffering from anxiety disorders.
Various factors contribute to this mindset, such as high expectations of parents, peer pressure of fitting into a particular societal norm, image consciousness in social media, fear of taking responsibility, and many more. But the common factor that dominates these contributors is FEAR. The fear of dealing with rejection and failure.
These young adult minds struggle hard to cope with disappointments when things do not go as per their expectations. Why? Because not enough opportunities were provided to them to prepare for failures in their childhood.
Confidence to face the fear gets seeded in Childhood
Madeline Levine, Ph.D. and an author of The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids, says- “In recent times, parents see failure as a source of pain for their children instead of an opportunity for them to say/feel, ‘I can deal with this”.
They are trying to act as a protective shield for their children against the disappointments attached to the hard facts of life, especially in terms of rejections, failures, and heartbreaks. It is normal, but this needs to be checked from changing into “Overprotectiveness”.
In the flow of doing good for a child, often Parents are dwarfing the mindful growth of the Child by moderating the development of essential life skills, such as problem-solving, risk-taking, and resilience.
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”— Paulo Coelho
Provide a child an opportunity to learn from mistakes
Give time to a child for trial and error
It is wisely said, “Rough seas made a good sailor”. Similarly, you can build up mental toughness in a child by allowing them to try the rough seas of failures and rejections. If the kid comes to you for help, do not rush yourself into jumping on the bandwagon as Savior. Instead, reassure the child by saying “let me first see you try then I will help you”. If the child is still reluctant then you can offer to do the things together. However, rather than you, let the kid take a lead on the completion of the task. Be it their school projects, homework, housework, or anything.
The outcome may be sometimes not satisfactory or up to the mark. You can then share your valuable input without demeaning the Child’s efforts. Encourage him/her by saying, “Good effort, let’s continue to improve on it.” or “ let’s try again if you’re not happy about it”. In this whole process, you’re helping a child to realize where they have made errors and how to rectify them.
From pages of my diary
I remember the time when my son was10yrs. One day he came back from school looking all flustered. He told me how he was misbehaved by one of the groups in his school. He wanted me to complain to the school management. I empathized with what he was going through, but at the same time realized that the situation was not so grave and can be handled by my son. I told him I will help but first, he should try to deal with this problem, himself.
“It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.”– Ann Landers
At first, he was reluctant but I was persistent. Finally, we got into the discussion, where I restrained myself and allowed my son to take the lead in finding out various options for dealing with it. It took him some time with his share of failures, but finally, he did it. Now at age 22, he mentioned how that episode in school is helping him in his college to deal with the adult world.
“Guiding children to reflect on the problem takes more time and loads of patience from parents, but provides rich opportunities for learning and skill-building for a child”.
Make them learn how to learn
From low grades to game loss, life can be riddled with disappointments and failures. Help the child to value his self-worth, not on the parameters of trophies won, but with the constant efforts and hard work done by him/her. A child always seeks validation from their parents about how worthy they are. Once the kids are in symphony with hard work, things will gradually fall into place.
You should indulge in frequent conversations with children, focusing on their personal growth rather than pinpointing their failures. The adolescent will be motivated to work harder.
In case, you feel that the child is putting his/her best foot forward, but still failing, be it in academics, sports, or anything else. Then, it’s time to understand where they’re going wrong. Maybe his/her method of learning is not up to mark or needs help in planning time management or any other concerning area. Discuss with them how they can do better, without domineering the conversation.
From pages of my diary
I experience a similar situation with my daughter when she was in class 8. Despite putting in her best efforts, she was not performing well in her exams. Even the teachers were unable to understand the reason as she was a bright child in the class. Finally, we looked into the pattern of her learning process and realized that she was lacking in time management and methodical learning. It has a tough phase to convince her to bring change in her learning style, but gradually she started to adapt and things started falling into place.
“Failure is simply an opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently”-Henry Ford
Be a good role model in handling failures
The most important point we as parents need to save in our log books. We are role models for our kids. If you panic every time you failed at something or are overly self-criticizing, then you’re not demonstrating healthy coping skills. How we perceive and behave while dealing with the pains of rejections and failures is a bible for our kids to follow.
Share with your kids, your stories of failures and heartbreaks, how you felt, and what you did to overcome them to ease children’s fear. These living examples and experiences are one of the best ways to make the child understand that it’s fine to fail as it helps in getting wiser and even adults go through it.
“Children learn more from how you act rather than you preach”.
Create a gap between Wish and Fulfillment
Giving your kids everything that they ask for can have detrimental effects on them financially and emotionally. “It’s beneficial for kids to learn about disappointment at a young age,” said, Kit Yarrow, a professor, of marking and psychology at Golden Gate University in San Francisco. “Kids who get everything they want can quickly adjust to that reality, which can lead to bigger and bigger expectations. Such children struggle hard to deal with things in their adulthood when things don’t go as per their expectations”.
“Create a gap between children’s wishes and needs”
Rejections and failures are an inevitable part of life. A bitter pill that needs to be chewed by everyone to bounce back into life. The only difference is those who learn this life skill from the budding stages of childhood have more fair chances of moving ahead in life with better perception and success than those who are overprotected.
You need to face failures on the way to success.