Learn From Struggle or Failure, You First Need to Struggle or Fail 12/11/17

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Learn From Struggle or Failure, You First Need to Struggle or Fail


We overheard a high schooler reminiscing about her middle school days and offering great advice to her younger self: Make sure to relax, don’t stress so much, enjoy your friends, and take in the opportunity to learn about yourself while learning new subjects. Figure out ways to take it all in, while not overwhelming yourself with perfection. Focus on doing the best you can, while learning how (and not forgetting) to care for yourself and others.

“For many teens, perceived faults loom large as their self-consciousness grows. Theorist David Elkind’s classic description of an adolescent’s sense of an ‘imaginary audience’ may not be so imaginary these days. Kids are watching each other closely both in school and online—judging, comparing, and evaluating—while mental health conditions like anxiety and depression are on the rise.” (Greater Good Science Berkeley)

This week, we found ourselves facing situations that made us draw on our advice from resources we’ve shared.  How do we put what we are learning into practice when the teachable moment arises? What do we do to best guide our students through their struggles? And, when is it best to just walk away? How do we teach our kids that there will be struggle and that life is like a rollercoaster? What can we, as adults (parents, teachers, coaches, advisors, etc.), do to prepare them for the ascents and declines of life’s rollercoaster? How do we handle the complex reality that joy and pain, success and disappointment, love and loss are all part of being human? Making sure to take the time to enjoy the ride.

Whether your seventh or eighth grader is struggling with the demands of multiple classes, your freshman with getting in the balancing grove of a new trimester, your sophomore with the pace of a challenging class, your junior with feeling the inherent weight of “am I on schedule?” or your senior wrestling with their current responsibilities and future unknowns…All are managing in the ways they know or have learned how. The tools some have, may not be the best ones for the task or job at hand. Their own mindset may be getting in their way of making good progress. As parents, we wondered: Are we brave enough to let them make and learn from their own mistakes? Are we willing and able to watch them struggle and suffer or are we quick to throw out the life vest or send out a rescue party? Are we the ones helping them to grow from teachable moments or sabotaging their golden opportunity to learn from their own mistakes?

 “When parents try to engineer failure out of kids’ lives, Lahey says, ‘Kids feel incompetent, incapable, unworthy of trust and utterly dependent’. They are, she argues, unprepared when ‘failures that happen out there, in the real world, carry far higher stakes’.”

Celebrating being perfectly imperfect and learning from mistakes,