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how do you combat a fear of failure?

(9 Posts)
thecaptaincrocfamily Wed 03-Aug-11 00:13:30

Dd1 5 is not profoundly gifted ? Very able. However, she picks things up usually very quickly.......but the trouble is she then becomes really disheartened when things don't click immediately and then she says she doesn't like the activity any more and refuses to try.
We give her lots of praise for her efforts as well as her achievements but it seems to make no difference sad. Has anyone else with older dc had this problem and how did you deal with it?

piprabbit Wed 03-Aug-11 00:17:10

Does she ever get to see you failing, working out what went wrong and then trying again. If you can model the behaviour you would like to see then it might help your DD, on the other hand if you are very critical of your own 'failings' then she will pick up on that too.

thecaptaincrocfamily Wed 03-Aug-11 12:53:57

Yes she has seen me do things wrong and then try to work out a different solution etc and I tell her it doesn't matter as long as she tries. She saw me studying lots but I guess I didn't discuss the problems I had with her because it didn't seem relevant to her. She did know that I didn't pass an assignment and I showed her my resubmission. Obviously not in detail lol! It was public health. Funnily enough I have just asked her if she thinks that I get things wrong and she said 'yes'. I also asked her if she seems me working things out and again she said 'yes' smile

ragged Wed 03-Aug-11 13:04:05

You just have to keep plugging away at this issue, keep doing stuff just for fun without regard for achievement. I wouldn't say DS7yo is gifted but he's very competitive and easily discouraged, it's been a long hard road to get him to believe (sort of) that it's about taking part, not having to win.

He's doing a lot of competitive sport lately, loves board games, too. And I always point out that in any race/competition barely one person gets to win, most people will not win (so hard to use the word "loser"!); so there's never any shame in trying your best & taking part.

mrsshears Wed 03-Aug-11 13:05:58

my own dd is the same age as yours and a perfectionist with a fear of faliure.
I have found disscusion to be very helpful,dd and i discuss in detail how faliure helps you to learn and how it's an essential part of learning how to do new things.
we took up piano as dd can be very resistant to being taught how to do things she doesnt already know,we did this also because at some point there will be something at school that dd can't already do and i wanted to address the problem before it started iyswim(and also dd had shown an interest in learning to play).
Since starting piano dd has been alot better,however i think we will always have issues with perfectionism etc to a degree as this is part of dd's character.

thecaptaincrocfamily Wed 03-Aug-11 22:07:54

Thank you all for your views, it has been helpful to see that we are trying our best! We asked if dd could learn violin at school for interest and partly because it was something she would need to try at and the same with ballet. Within weeks of doing ballet she could do as well as others in the class and was bored with the repetition so refused to do it.....just sat sucking her thumb if they sat on the floor! Violin seems to be enjoyable and her report suggests she is doing well but again she refuses to practice at home. Do I keep her doing it although she won't practice or do we discontinue? I have to add she did really well with trampolining and did this for a year but as it got harder for her she didn't want to go, although she was very tired due to starting school so we stopped going.

SouthGoingZax Wed 03-Aug-11 22:09:56

Praise for effort rather than achievement as much as you can.

Dunlurking Thu 04-Aug-11 07:00:45

I sympathise with you over the fear of failure issue. My ds has always been the same. But can I recommend the book Bounce, by Matthew Syed, which I have just finished reading? It explains effective approaches to effort (and failure). One example he gives, which is one that our dcs might understand, is that of elite ice skaters. He talks about a study done in the 90s that showed that the main difference between those who made the elite levels, and those not getting to that level was that the former regularly attempted jumps beyond their current capabilities. The less elite didn’t. So basically the elite fell over more often in training sessions. There is a quote about a Japanese skater who is estimated to have fallen over more than 20,000 times in her progression from age 5 to 2006 Olympic champion: “Landing on your butt twenty thousand times is where great performance comes from.”

Personally I find that a very visual example that children can giggle at but understand. Hopefully they can extrapolate the ice skating example to other activities. Dd and ds also have a problem with boredom during ballet. Both learn movements and dances quickly. But they don’t really get that ballet is about technique and repetitive practice over and over so that the body learns the moves and does them without conscious thought, with the right technique. Matthew Syed talks about sportsmen learning technique by practising until a movement is in their implicit memory, rather than explicit memory – so they don’t have to think consciously about the movement. Dance is the same. I guess we (or the teacher) need to find ways of making the class more fun while that process goes on.

Syed did a Q&A on here not long ago and it is worth looking at his suggestions to individual parents’ issues.

If you are a member of nagc there is an advice sheet about perfectionism, and the fear of failure in gifted children which you can download from their website which suggests strategies. I think you can pay to get the advice sheets if you aren’t a member. There are some excellent ones that cover most of the issues people post about on here. Can’t say we have had any other benefit from being members, but then we live in an area without an active local group.

My dd is having a wonderful time playing her violin on a summer strings course at the moment. Am hoping it inspires her to practice more and improve on her crap sight reading. She took grade 2 a few months ago, but could have done this summer school last summer at just grade 1 level – and there are 6 year olds on it (she says). So it you can just get your dd past the painful early stages of the violin then she may find playing in a group/holiday scheme enjoyable.

thecaptaincrocfamily Thu 04-Aug-11 23:55:32

Thanks for that link, I will have a look smile The example you give sounds like it could work.

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