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Friday - - Beauty -

MY SON IS SCARED OF FAIL­ING AT EV­ERY­THING

Q My son, a happy, smart and nice boy, is 12 and un­til re­cently was do­ing well in his stud­ies and sports. But now, he has a fear of try­ing any­thing at all; he says he can’t do it and will not be a suc­cess at it any­way. I think this is be­cause he did not do as well as he ex­pected in his school tests. I am wor­ried this sit­u­a­tion will get worse.

AFirstly, let me re­as­sure you that what your son is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing is com­pletely nat­u­ral and it af­fects ev­ery­one to some ex­tent in their lives. It’s called the fear of fail­ure. How you man­age the is­sue with your son is im­por­tant.

He’s at a time in his life where he’s be­gin­ning to ap­proach the tran­si­tion phase be­tween boy and young man. He’s re­al­is­ing that his ac­tions and choices do have an im­pact now, which is fright­en­ing for him. I sug­gest you take a con­struc­tive ap­proach to work­ing RASHI CHOWD­HARY through spe­cific parts of his school re­sults.

Look calmly and ob­jec­tively at where he didn’t do well. Think of ways of chang­ing small things to help him im­prove. The key here is in turn­ing a neg­a­tive into pos­i­tive. Make small changes. Re­build­ing his con­fi­dence grad­u­ally will bring him around to get­ting in­volved in more things.

Un­for­tu­nately, we live in a global cul­ture where the no­tion of ‘fail­ing’ at some­thing is gen­er­ally per­ceived as only ever a bad thing. I think this is a shame.

Let me elab­o­rate: If you take a good look at the thing you’ve ‘failed’ at, what you ac­tu­ally have is a great learn­ing op­por­tu­nity. You didn’t do so well at some­thing for a rea­son. Be it poor prepa­ra­tion, in­suf­fi­cient time, lack of knowl­edge, ab­sence of mo­ti­va­tion – what­ever the rea­son, you could, and should, learn from it so next time, you will do bet­ter.

Your son is scared of fail­ing again, so nat­u­rally his so­lu­tion is to stop do­ing the things he feels he will fail at. We’re all bom­barded with im­agery and mes­sages in the me­dia that ev­ery­one ap­pears to be good at ev­ery­thing nat­u­rally, or that suc­cess is some­how in­stinc­tive. I’ve worked with some top sport stars and I can tell you, they all have a cou­ple of traits in com­mon - hard work and ut­ter re­silience. When the soc­cer star scores the ‘won­der goal’ to win the game, that’s not just skill and tal­ent, it’s the 25,000 train­ing shots he’s struck to per­fect his art.

Per­fec­tion­ism is the bed­fel­low of the fear of fail­ure. Some peo­ple don’t at­tempt or try things at all; they feel they won’t be per­fect at it and even a tiny amount of fail­ure is vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble for these peo­ple to han­dle.

Speak to your son and try to un­der­stand his view­point on why he’s not en­gag­ing in var­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties. Don’t at­tempt to pun­ish him into ac­tion. In­stead, al­ways work on the pos­i­tives of ac­tion and not the neg­a­tives of in­ac­tion.

58 is a nu­tri­tion­ist, di­a­betes ed­u­ca­tor and creator of The Pro­tein Bake Shop

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