What words come into your head when you think about ‘success’? Victory, glory, achievement, being a high-flier, a winner, a leader?
As a parent, how do you measure success? What does it look like?
- A satisfying career?
- Owning your own home?
- Your children being happy, leaving school with qualifications and achieving life goals?
What about children? How do they see success? Interestingly, lots of children say that success involves:
- Doing well at school
- Being liked
- Having friends
- Being happy
- Being confident
- Having a great job
- Earning lots of money
That’s a lot of winning. My word, it all sounds so easy to achieve. Except, the truth is it’s not…
The path to success can be a long journey
Academic, social and personal successes can be hard to come by.
In fact, there are many scenarios that affect successful outcomes, where children fall behind, have learning gaps, and truly struggle with learning.
When this happens, all those dreams seem to fall away. Those success markers are replaced by difficulties.
How do you cope with that? Perhaps it can help to rethink what success means in the short term.
I’ve worked with young people for 3o years. While it’s true to say that some people breeze through school relatively unscathed, most children hit a brick wall at some point.
The good news is, there is hope.
How to break the negativity cycle
- Rather than looking at the big picture, I often advise students to focus on small pieces of the jigsaw first. That way, tiny steps can lead to bigger ones.
- Find a way in first… It’s not about fanfares, or being the best. Children need to feel empowered, curious or inspired.
- Whatever is holding a child back, break down each goal into do-able actions. Ask ‘how’ can this goal be achieved?
- Because children compare themselves to their peers, this often leads to anxiety when they feel they don’t measure up or can’t compete. Praise your child for small achievements to rebuild their loss of self-esteem.
- If your child is trapped in a negative feedback loop where they berate themselves for not being good enough, it’s essential to help them shift their focus back to what they can control. This might take lots of effort, especially if your child has had a difficult journey thus far, but stick at it.
- Teach your child that failure is normal, even desirable. We ALL fail in life. Learning from mistakes is the noble achievement. It’s temporary, however – and not a lifelong condition! Sharing your mistakes and failures with your child can help them put theirs into perspective.
- Set achievable short-term goals to build confidence.
My tuition starsAs a tutor, helping wonderful young people to believe in themselves is my inspiration. Here are just a few successes I have achieved as a tutor.
- I helped an agoraphobic, autistic young man without qualifications to pursue Functional Skills qualifications at college. Too scared to write anything independently, we worked through his fear together and discovered his natural writing ability. Today, he leaves the house to go to college and has found that life is worth living after all, despite losing faith that he’d ever amount to anything. Tuition has long stopped, but we stay in touch as friends.
- A dyslexic student who had had a scribe write every word for him during secondary school, found the confidence to write independently. He smashed his GCSEs! I was so proud of him…
- When I first met Cam, he used Dragon software to dictate his writing. Because of severe autism, he’d not been able sit any GCSEs or A Levels. However, as a mature student, he was offered the opportunity to study an Art degree. He’d never learnt academic writing before and was weak on the structures of writing. Over time, his skills improved and he achieved an incredible 2:1. I still have the photo of him in his mortarboard.
I could sit here for hours sharing wonderful stories about the incredible students I work with now, or those who have found a way to move forward in life.
To see young people empowered after being so restrained by life’s curve balls is quite frankly the highlight of my career.
If you too need some life-changing tuition to help turn things around, please get in touch.
Thanks for reading…
* Image courtesy of Sylvia Duckworth.