Helping children to deal with failure

Saturday June 1 2019


By Min Atek

I can still feel the anguish that threatened to tear me apart. There was a point I felt I was actually choking on it. My mother did not understand and she was not helping at all.

Only a few days back, I had received the news of what felt like the biggest failure in my life.

Although I had worked extremely hard, passed my A- level with excellent grades, obtained admission as a government sponsored student at Makerere University, I had missed out on my first choice course by 0.1 points.

I felt like a total failure. I asked myself severally how I was going to deal with this jab complete with its related shame.
To make matters worse, I was not given a place in any hall of residence, meaning, I would be a non-resident student.

It was very hard dealing with fellow classmates who had scored lower grades but had gotten their preferred courses, either because they could pay for private sponsorship or those who stayed in the halls of residence because they had the backing of technical know who.

To say that I hated my entire stay at the university is an understatement. I have never desired to go back to the institution to date.
Recently, children returned from their national residential convention, where they competed in various categories. One of them, despite being immensely talented, came back with no accolade.


I could feel and relate with his pain.

Key question here is, how do we handle failure and disappointment in life?
How can a child be helped to cope with such failure and shame?
How does a parent offer appropriate support and yet allow the child to pick lessons and move forward?
Do you pretend like nothing happened? Do you brush it all off and briskly tell the child to move on? Do you hold them and say, you understand? Do you pray with them and remind them that tomorrow will be a better day?
The world is ruthless by all standards. I often remind myself that even as an adult, I ought to focus on the lessons rather than the pain and frustration brought by life.

It is not easy but such is life. Young or old, we must be well equipped to handle this eventuality.
It takes tenacity to endure and recover. Lord help me build this muscle.