It's time to change the attitude towards children's certificates.
Children receive certificates (Photo: Reuven Castro)
Twice a year our children receive certificates.
Twice a year they and we also wait with great anticipation, tension and excitement for the results.
This is true even if you have no idea what to expect and if you already got a partial or full picture at the parents' meeting or in conversations with the teachers and children.
Naturally, on this day one can expect one of two possible scenarios.
When the certificate is good, it goes without saying that it will bring joy and peace to you and the children.
Maybe you'll celebrate with a family pizza, maybe you'll go out for fun and it's almost certain that you'll also share the wonderful news with the members of the extended family.
On the other hand, when the certificate points to such and such "failures", one can understand why it can cause disappointment and frustration, whether these feelings burst out or whether they remain hidden deep inside.
"If he continues like this, where will he end up?"
From the many conversations I had with parents who came for counseling following their children's disappointing certificates, I was mainly impressed by their helplessness and stress in the face of the "failures" that are printed on the fancy paper.
"What will happen to him?", is a question that comes up a lot in these meetings, "If he continues like this, where will he end up? If he is already having a hard time, what does that mean for what will happen in graduation? In the army? In the university?".
It is impossible to ignore the fact that difficulties in studies create a difficult situation, which can be very stressful and worrying.
Of course we as parents want to see our children succeed, flourish, be satisfied with themselves, behave respectfully and surrounded by friends who push them forward.
And when our expectations are not realized in reality, the human mind tends to weave stressful horror stories, which it is important to be aware of and the tenuous connection between them and life itself.
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"Every failed attempt is another step forward"
We all want to be better parents to our children.
To do this, you should think about how to change the story we tell ourselves about ourselves and our children.
This recommendation, it is important to understand, is backed by many studies conducted over the years that show that even slight changes in the wording of the narrative in the brain can produce a tremendous impact on life in a long series of aspects.
For example, instead of seeing failure as something scary and threatening, you can treat it as an opportunity.
In my view, failure is not the opposite of success, but its complementary event.
In this context, Dr. Zvi Tsiklik published an academic article called "Learning from Failures" in which he illustrates how important it is to stop labeling the term "failure" as negative, and instead treat it as a positive and critical step in the journey to development and renewal.
"I failed again and again in my life - and that's exactly why I succeeded."
Michael Jordan (Photo: GettyImages, Jonathan Daniel / Allsport)
History is also full of stories of people who experienced many failures until they succeeded in a big way.
Thomas Edison, the inventor of the electric light bulb, once referred to the importance of failure as a way to achieve the goal: the invention of the light bulb came only after he had failed in 10,000 previous attempts.
In one of his famous quotes he said: "If I found a thousand ways that don't work, I haven't failed, every failed attempt is another step forward."
Michael Jordan, the legendary basketball player, also said in the summary of his career that "I made more than 9,000 shots at the basket, 26 of which were decisive shots in games. I lost almost 300 games, I failed again and again in my life - and that's exactly why I succeeded."
These inspiring stories teach that difficulty can be an opportunity, but only if you know how to learn and grow from it.
For this to happen, it is important that we parents work together with our children on the study of failure as an opportunity for development.
The "crash investigation" and its sweet fruits
When a plane crashes, a series of world-renowned experts gather to investigate the event in detail and formulate conclusions that are distributed to airlines and authorities all over the world in order to prevent similar cases from occurring in the future.
To distinguish thousands of differences, when a student returns home with a certificate that is perceived as a "failure", it is important to carry out a thorough investigation in order to understand how to improve the learning mechanism and overcome the challenges in a more benevolent and efficient way down the road.
To clarify how to manage such a process in a beneficial way, I want to share a slightly different example, which may surprise you.
This week my yoga teacher saw that some of the students were not performing the pose she was explaining correctly, so she asked a student who was performing the exercise incorrectly to demonstrate.
I remember being quite surprised by the request.
Why ask the one who failed?
But while Galit slowly moved her into the correct position and explained to us what needed to be corrected, I realized how true it is to learn from failed performances.
The fix illustrated exactly what we all needed to do to improve and make the movement more accurate.
More on the subject:
How to teach your children to fail without letting it break them
Toxic parenting: 4 things you should stop doing to your children
Just like that, parents can also check together with their children what doesn't work, what does work, what needs to be changed and whether the fear of failure paralyzes them and prevents them from moving forward.
In this context, it is important to check whether the avoidance of learning is the result of learned helplessness, which slowly and gradually fosters despair and aversion to studies.
Maybe the child's sense of ability is low and he does not believe that he can even achieve higher achievements?
Maybe he has knowledge gaps that need to be completed and he doesn't know how?
Maybe he is dealing with ADHD that prevents him from functioning "like everyone else"?
These are just a few examples of questions that do not contain criticism or blame, but a desire to learn, understand and change together.
That way, instead of a "bad" certificate causing disappointment and frustration, you can turn the event into an opportunity to connect with your children, make them understand that you see them and that you will do everything to find together with them solutions to improve the situation.
And as the former President of the United States, Franklin Roosevelt, put it, "the courage to dare and the lack of fear of failure are the basis of every entrepreneurial and innovative move."
The author is Vared Sendak, an expert parent facilitator in the field of attention disorders and learning disabilities, in collaboration with the Experts site - expert advice