Children react to failure in many different ways – but then the word failure can mean many different things.
Eleven Plus failure can mean the end of a dream, but failure to finish a practice paper can, sometimes, be brushed away. Failing to put dirty washing away is something very different. (Even worse?)
Children will sometimes react to failure with anger.
On other occasions the child will demonstrate denial.
Sometimes the words: “I don’t care!” will be forced out between clenched teeth.
At one time or another many of us will have read the book about Pollyanna. She was a character who always looked on the bright side of things. If something went wrong she would always try to find something to be glad about. There was little room for grumpiness in her life.
Somewhere in between are the children (and adults) who try to use comedy to diffuse the sense of failure. Of course this will work sometimes – but fall flat on others.
Many of us, children included, do our best to forget about failure as soon as possible.
Of course we all hear about other people who try to pass the responsibility for failure onto some one else.
“It was not me, Gov. It was the system.”
“I don’t even like cookies. I hate them, anyway.”
“I can’t stand the grammar school. I did not want to go there, anyway.”
One of the easiest ways of escaping from failure is to try to attain the goal through fantasy. Lots of children, and adults, indulge in make believe. Make believe is a very normal side of a child’s development.
Eleven plus children will experience different types of failure along the way. The children, and their parents, will react to the failure in different ways. It is likely, however, that the most common response from a parent will be along the lines:
“Just do your best.”
“I am sure you did your best.”
“I know you, I am sure you will do your best.”