School is a fun and exiting time, but it is also full of countless challenges, setbacks, failures, and difficult situations. Just like adults, children have to deal with pressure, stress and challenges and still perform at school.
As children transition from kinder to prep, they need to start learning to listen to the teacher rather than just playing. They need to start focusing and commit to learning tasks and class rules. They also need to have the confidence to blend into groups and make friends.
During playtime, they have to challenge themselves to, for example, conquering the monkey bar. As they get older, it is not long before social comparisons begin and they have to keep up with sports, playing music or the latest schoolyard craze. They are expected to read, write and stand in front of the class during ‘Show and Tell’, which requires confidence. These are just some of the uncomfortable situations your child will face in the early primary school years.
Children who are mentally tough withstand these pressures and challenges more effectively. According to research undertaken by Dr Peter Clough, psychologist and a leading expert on mental toughness, mentally tough children perform up to 25% better in exams. They sleep better, show better attendance, are more engaged in the classroom and have higher aspirations. They transition better from junior to secondary education, perceive less bullying and are less likely to adopt anti-social behaviour.
So what is mental toughness?
Mental toughness is not about acting tough, being unkind or suppressing emotions. Mental toughness is about having the inner resilience, curiosity, confidence and drive to reach your full potential.
It’s about being comfortable in your own skin and having the courage and positive mindset to grow and thrive.
Mental toughness originates from elite sports psychology, where it has been used with success for over 30 years and is increasingly being recognised to apply to everyday life – both for adults and children.
The earlier we start exposing children to the concepts and techniques around mental toughness the better we can prepare them for the future.
How can I help my child become mentally tough?
Mental toughness is made up of four attributes, also called the 4 Cs. These are commitment, control, challenge and confidence.
Using small exercises, like the ones outlined, regularly, will instill a positive mindset in your child and increase their self-belief and mental toughness over time. It may also be helpful to read books and stories that illustrate these concepts to your children in a fun and practical way that they can relate to.
You don’t need to wait until they are an elite sport person, the school year just has started, begin implementing mental toughness concepts and strategies with your children today, there is no time like now!