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Failure and rejection are the most difficult situations for a child to face and since such instances are bound to come up in one form or the other, it is at this time that you need to guide your child to recover and try again.

An important part of maturing is the development of the ability to recognize, respond and recover from challenging situations. A resilient child develops the resources he needs to cope and become even stronger while rising to the challenge of disadvantage.

Positive Competition

It is impossible to protect your child from competitive situations. Your child can learn some valuable lessons from healthy competition.

Do your best and leave the rest : It is not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game. A loser can feel good about his efforts since he tried his best. A winner may look back at the game and realize his victory would have been impossible without that extra push at the end.

Danger of being overly competitive : Competitive situations can easily get out of control. When children are too focused on winning, they may start to evaluate themselves based on how many victories they have achieved. For them winning is more important than playing the game. If your child is too competitive, he may cheat, lie or change the rules of the game to win.

Sibling Competition : Siblings naturally turn to each other when in search of a playmate and competitive situations will certainly spring up. Hence, it is necessary to weigh a balance. The younger child usually learns and picks up things faster. They tend to imitate their older sibling. The younger sibling usually complains that the older one is more skilled, in this case, strike a balance and suggest a handicap for the older player.

Ways to cope with Challenging Situations


Reassure your child : Reassure your child that he is still loved regardless of failure. Go over the issue to find out the possible reason for failure. Suggest alternative ways that could prove more successful.


Give him the opportunity to be independent : Try not to outline in minute details, the method of doing a job. Sometimes parents are over protective and want to guide their children, giving them no leeway to do things on their own.


Do not pressurize your child : The rat race these days begins at a very junior level with children. Young toddlers are expected to be learned, in order to get into a school. Parents are all the time pushing their children to go for extra curricular activities and tuitions to meet up the rat race. Children are constantly driven to achieve, they encounter a test around every corner. Parents should have the ability to guide their children, so that both their successes as well as their failures are positive learning experiences. It is important to develop the right attitude towards learning.


Overdoing praise :      Some parents discourage their children's achievements by being excessively critical, other parents achieve the same effect with excessive praise. If children get the message that everything they do is "brilliant" or the "best", it demotivates them. They cease to feel the need to make any effort to improve their performance. An accurate assessment of children's abilities and constructive criticism is the best approach. Do not discourage children from setting high standards for themselves, but be around to encourage them, if they are dissatisfied with their achievements.


Foster resiliency : A resilient child develops the resources he needs to cope and even become strong, while rising to challenge of disadvantages. A resilient child usually comes from a family that provides a caring and secure environment, a family that has the strength to cope and recover from severe stress and crisis. A resilient child usually has a very high self-esteem. He has a zest for life and seeks out new experiences. He is independent and relies on himself for solutions. He has social competence and a lot of perseverance.


Foster high self esteem : Self esteem can be defined as the "combination of feelings of capability, with the feeling of being loved". Self-esteem can also be defined as the "collection of beliefs or feelings that we have about ourselves". How we define ourselves hugely influences our motivation, attitudes and behaviour. Healthy self-esteem is a child's armour against the challenges of the world. Children who feel good about themselves, seem to have an easier time handling conflict and resisting negative pressures.


Past History :

An adolescent who wanted to be a model told the school counsellor that he was giving up his plans. When asked the reason, he explained that several friends told him that he had a persistent twitching of the mouth muscle, when he answered questions in class or while reading loudly. He had been unaware of this muscle twitch and even after being told about it, could not tell when it took place. However, he became acutely self-conscious and was reluctant to answer questions or enter into class discussions. As a result, his general level of tension increased and so did the frequency of the twitching, which now become apparent even when he was talking to a friend. Thus a vicious circle had been established.

Past history revealed that he was a shy, withdrawn child in his young days and felt very competitive in completing his tasks in a classroom. He had a very fast friend in his classroom whom he was very fond of, but this friend always outbeat him at various occasions. He always stood first in class, which made the other children become jealous and angry. The adolescent felt that he could not cope with his agileness.

This made the adolescent very self conscious and tense in social situations. He often hid his emotions and feelings so well that it was impossible to know what his true reactions were. This emotional distress could be detected by his tension, restlessness and the tics and twitching of his mouth muscles.

The counsellor talked at great length to the parents, understanding the nature of the problem. It was found and stated to the parents that there was a predominant fear of the child losing his identity. The child felt that he was not himself and he felt imperfect. He had a high achievement expectancy of himself, but a very poor self-image and self-esteem. He was asked to use the following techniques :


To talk with other people about the things he feared.


He could argue with other people about the reality or unreality of dreaded imaginary situations or fantasized events, say examinations, competitions, concerts, etc.


Condition himself to believe that all or some situations may seem demanding to him and that it is natural to feel like that.


Acceptance of himself at all levels.

The adolescent was also helped by assistance in developing skills e.g. during loud reading sessions in class, the teacher was asked to make him acquainted gradually with the situation, asking him to do some deep breathing exercises, stating also auto suggestive statements like "I am feeling easy and light". Thus the adolescent was taken by degrees into active contact and participation with the feared situation.

One of the breathing exercises taught to the client was as follows :


Lying down, knees bent, breathe in to a slow count of 3-4, pushing sideways the hands which rest on the lower chest. When lungs are full, exhale slowly to a count of 4 - 5. Apply slight pressure at end of a breath, to complete exhalation.


Always breathe in through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Repeat each exercise five times. Unless breathing is rhythmic and slow it is impossible to relax, either physically or mentally.



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