When helping a student build confidence and mental resilience, it can seem a little counter-intuitive to focus on past failures. However, with careful handling, analysing where things have gone wrong in the past can be a fundamental part of helping to address gaps in knowledge and skills that could help toward better results in the future.

The process of addressing failure can be difficult, but here are five simple points to help your child or student to remain positive:

  1. Assure them that they are not alone in failing an exam or test. Everyone fails from time to time, and the important thing is to learn from it.
  2. Help them deal with their emotions. They should understand that it’s OK to feel bad about something, but then see it for what it is – a temporary setback – and move on.
  3. Tell them to take responsibility for the failure. Did they study hard enough, pay enough attention, focus properly? If they accept that they are responsible, they will quickly realise they have the power to change outcomes in the future.
  4. Don’t allow them to wallow in their feelings. They will feel bad, initially, but get them to move on quickly to the actions they need to take to improve before next time.
  5. Change the language. Negative thoughts can take hold quickly and are hard to shift once established. Re-frame everything you can. For example, don’t let them say, “Why have I failed?” Rather, “That wasn’t the result I wanted. What can I do better next time?”

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