It is so important to help your teen stay positive during the learning process so that they can persevere and grow from their failures. When teens are not good at something immediately, their natural instinct is to quit or label themselves as no good. This is especially true if they are comparing themselves to someone who has mastered it a bit better. However, it is the struggles in life that build teens character, work ethic, and resilience. Helping your teen understand that everything is happening for them not to them, is a valuable change is perspective that will help them see their failures as an opportunity to grow so they can persevere and become the next best version of themselves.
While this sounds great, when your teen is struggling academically, athletically, socially, physically or emotionally it is so hard to watch. As parents, it is so tempting to swoop in and make it better for them, but this robs our teens of valuable life lessons. Instead, we need to find a balanced approach where we offer support and encouragement to our teens while giving them the space and time to be uncomfortable and solve their own problems. Let’s take a look at what that might look like.
Step 1: Address Problem
Let’s say a teen bombs a math quiz.
Sometimes teens will come to their parents looking for help, and other times teens just ignore the problem hoping it will just magically go away. Either way, the best place to start is to ask nonjudgmental questions that give your teen a chance to open up and share how they are feeling.
- What do you think went wrong?
- How did you do on the homework leading up to this quiz?
- How did you prepare/study for the quiz?
- How did other people do on the quiz?
- What did your teacher say about this grade?
Step 2: Keep It Positive
If a teen bombs a quiz, they are most likely feeling down on themselves. Build up their self confidence, so they remain positive about their ability to persevere and improve.
- I am not worried about it at all because I have full confidence that you can figure this out and improve.
- As long as I know you are trying your best, then I am proud of you.
- We all have areas where we struggle. This might not be easy, but I know you can do it.
- You are a great student. I know you will succeed.
Step 3: Teen Reaches Out for Support
Once you have built up your teen’s confidence and have a clearer understanding of what happened, then it is time to help your teen brainstorm a plan of action. That will look different depending on how your teen’s school is set up to support them or what failure they are experiencing. Give your teen specific questions to ask and prep them to have a productive conversation.
- I am really disappointed with this grade, and I was wondering what I can do to better prepare for the next quiz.
- Is there an opportunity to bring this grade up?
Step 4: Follow Up
While your teen might agree to speak with their teacher, sometimes they forget or they are nervous and don’t follow through. When they get home, be sure to ask how the meeting went. Keep reminding them until they have the conversation, and you are both satisfied that there is a good plan in place to move towards a more successful outcome.
Step 5: Step In
Ideally, your teen’s teacher, or whomever they speak with, will offer support and give them the guidance and confidence to improve. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. If your teen has made an effort to handle the situation on their own, and it is not improving, then it is time to step in and help them. Again, this will look different depending on the school or the particular failure, but sometimes an adult asking the questions gets a better response.
Step 6: Outside Support
While it is important for our teens to learn how to bounce back after a failure, sometimes they need a bit more guidance to get there. Finding a tutor, coach or counselor who can give more specific one on one attention to your teen, is sometimes what a teen needs to be successful. Knowing when you need support is not a weakness it is a strength. A past student of mine was VERY unorganized. He is now a successful business man because he understood his strengths and weaknesses and hired an assistant to manage his schedule and office.
It doesn’t matter what level of support your teen requires to be successful. The important factor is to put them in the driver’s seat while finding a solution. This sends a strong message that you believe in their ability to succeed and gives them the confidence to persevere and grow from their failures instead of relying on you to fix all of their problems.
For some teens, failing at something throws them into The Chronic Stress Loop, and they rely on unhealthy habits such as quitting, overeating or withdrawing to soothe the stress. If this sounds like your teen, then grab a copy of my FREE Stress Less Guide to learn how to identify this pattern and support your teen to break free, so they can be happy and healthy in school and beyond.
Originally published at www.claireketchum.com