I’m just not good enough…

Have you ever heard a child say how useless they are as they’ve failed an exam, or seen their face fall when academically compared to their peers? It’s heart-wrenching.

The sad truth is that there is a fixation in society on being perfect. Social media encourages it, and young people are exposed to it every day of their lives…

Think of the ‘practice makes perfect’ phrase that’s drummed into us as children. To be successful, you have to be perfect. Sadly we see this in schools where there is so much emphasis on passing exams, that some young people end up fearing failure.

And when students who give it their all don’t pass an exam or test, it’s as if the bottom of their world has fallen through. To them it feels as if they will never – ever – be good enough. It’s this that’s worrying – and is something we come across all the time here at 121 Home Tutors.

That pressure pot will boil over at some stage. And it reveals itself in all sorts of ways. Perhaps your child fears failure so much that he or she won’t even try? Perhaps your teen is a nervous wreck if school is mentioned?

With few counsellors in schools now, the onus is up to us to help our children find a way over the barriers ahead.

How to help your child find perspective

Our brilliant tutor team at 121 Home Tutors are often asked to support a young person address their confidence or anxiety about a specific subject.

Sometimes, anxiety is so severe that as tutors we unpick the negative thinking first before steering youngsters in the right direction. Endless patience and empathy are just two of our starting tools!

So to help them go forward without worrying about being perfect, it’s important to change their rigid mindset. Here are three useful strategies to help them do just that:

1. Break black and white thinking by emphasising that mistakes are simply learning curves. Instead of catastrophising about a test result, encourage your child to see that other people fail and yet achieve in the end in their own good time.

Thomas Edison failed a thousand times before he found the right filament for his light bulb, for instance. Why not admit your own failures?!

2. Look for the good, don’t dwell on the bad. Negative self-talk can lead to a downward spiral. Instead, encourage looking on the bright side by using more positive language in every day life.

You might say ‘Nobody’s perfect’ if you burn dinner, or if something doesn’t go to plan ‘Oh well, such is life’ or ‘I gave it my best shot..’ Positive phrases will give your child perspective that all is not lost if something negative happens.

3. Praise small achievements – even trying. Without a doubt, if you focus on the small wins, you can put the bigger losses in perspective. Equally, it matters to make sure that academic achievement is all that’s praised.

Saying ‘You showed so much courage today..’ or ‘Thanks for doing that for your sister..’ can help reverse a negative ‘i’m useless’ mindset.

When a private tutor can make all the difference

Don’t forget. Working one to one with a private tutor can make a huge difference if  a specific subject is causing anxiety.

Because our tutor team work across the Manchester and Cheshire areas and cover KS2, Entrance exams, KS3 to GCSEs, A Levels and beyond, whatever stage your child is at there is always someone to help. Get in touch for a chat if you’re worried…

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