Overcoming Challenges (like SATs)!
You may have noticed but SATs seem to have had a bad press recently. As parents, tutors and teachers, how should we respond to this? Are we setting kids up for failure and depression?
I spoke to someone who asked me my opinion the other day. She said, “I failed when I was at that age, I was a failure because I didn’t pass the 11+.”
She still felt the pain of this many years later. Should we blame a system for damaging and hurtfully labelling children?
Prof M Seligman in ‘Learned Optimism’ says that we can teach our children to deal with challenges if we help them fight the worst bully of all, themselves. It’s that little voice that they hear when things go wrong. “You’re not good enough, you can’t do it, you never will.”
Here are some ways to help.
- a) When things go wrong be a good model, don’t say ‘I’m such an idiot’ (which is permanent) but ‘I am having a bad day’(which is temporary).
- b) If, for example, your child gets shouted at by a teacher and feels down, explore with them what that experience makes them believe e.g. he hates me, the class thinks I am stupid. Help them dispute this by making it less personal e.g. He shouts at everyone, the class knows this. You may want to go through some practice scenarios to help your child develop these skills.
- c) If they do something well, say something like, ‘because you practised hard you have become much better/faster/stronger.’(personal, they did it) ‘How do you feel? I would feel great if I could have done that at your age.’ (feeling good gives them energy)
- d) If they say ‘I hate maths’ (a permanent negative belief), say ‘You’re just finding it difficult right now but you can work at it.’ (temporary and they can change)
We can’t avoid difficult things in life, and the evidence is that responding with a positive optimistic style is the best way to overcome adversity. So, ‘Onwards and upwards’ as my mother used to say!
Take a look at this great video. https://youtu.be/2hHNq45rEnU
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