"Failure is data; it helps you figure out what you need to learn, and what strategies you could use to help you perform." (Excellent article worth reading!!)
Furthermore, when a student is stressed out about their academics (or any life stressor for that matter) they quite literally cannot learn or perform to their best ability.
As the trusted adults in their lives we can help guide them to perform better! For example, praising their effort versus commenting on "natural ability". A parent that attempts to motivate their kid by telling them they are "smart and can do it!" is a lovely sentiment but when things get hard, these compliments begin to get confusing because in the mind of the student, "If I'm so smart, why isn't this easier??" This is where we need to change our motivation tactic to praising their EFFORT. "You worked so hard!" "I saw how much time you put into that assignment!"
“'Emphasizing effort gives a child a variable that they can control,” said Dweck. “They come to see themselves as in control of their success.” So how can we recognize and reward effort — without letting our kids fall back into a fixed mindset? The key is sharing the right kind of praise a lot and with impact. It’s not enough to just say, “Good job.” We need to notice, name, and nourish.
These strategies work best with younger kids, who will speak frankly with their parents about what they’re thinking and feeling. Teenagers can be a little trickier. At this age, they’re gravitating away from parents and toward peers, and you may feel like there’s a widening gap between you and your kid. If this sounds like you, try reminding your child of past growth experiences when he gets frustrated.
“How can I help my child when he gets ‘stuck’? What do I do when he just gives up and shuts down?” When I get this question, I remind parents that when the brain is overwhelmed with stress, it goes into “fight or flight” mode. For many kids, particularly those with ADHD, “flight” generally means “freeze” — they shut down completely and their brains won’t learn. When too much stress happens, learning can’t take place, so it’s important for parents to recognize when children need to be comforted or left alone — not expected to continue with their work.
Be sure to read on in this article to learn more about supporting your student during the hard times!!
Stay Healthy, Chaps!
-Kristi Waidhofer and Katie Bryant