Don’t focus on the mistake as much as you celebrate the victories.
Even if mistakes were made or things were messed up, make sure you remember to point out what was done right or well. Focus on pointing out the effort or courage it took to try. With more focus balanced toward what went wrong, it becomes harder to move forward and do it right.
It can destroy a child’s confidence over time. It happens to adults too when they don’t work for very good leaders for years.
We use graduation ceremonies to celebrate achievements, where students will get up in front of friends and family to show off what they have learned.
Many times while doing these events, I have seen a student mess up, and run off the floor. Sometimes embarrassed and biting back tears. They have shown they can do it, but they still mess up sometimes.
When it happens with kids, there is often a parent on the sidelines who will ask them why they hesitated or why they forgot something they were supposed to do.
One, this isn’t a helpful question, and this event is supposed to be a celebration. Instead of asking why they hesitated or forgot something, it is better to ask how they felt about their performance to start the conversation.
The student will likely answer something like “I don’t know, I forgot how to do it.”
This is usually followed from a parent with something along the lines of “but you had it last night.”
The problem with this, is that suddenly a student, no matter what age, will suddenly start feeling like they will never be good enough. Like they haven’t earned their rank, because they made one mistake, one day, even if they have done it countless times with no problem. It has a real impact on you when you are in front of people.
Don’t miss the effort and achievement victories over one mistake or correction, or you are putting the students focus on what is bad, instead of what is good and helping them find ways to cope with situations to get better.
Remember the difference between:
Incorrect: “What happened? You should know how to do this, just lift the trash bag and take it outside, is that so hard?” Followed by no response after they do it, or possible a frustrated response of “finally!” or “should have done that to start with”
Correct: “I know you don’t want to do it, but I appreciate you trying! The quicker you put more muscle into lifting that trash bag the sooner we can get to play time though!” Followed by thanking them and congratulating them on getting a job well done, let them know that even though it may seem a small job, it is very helpful and means a lot to you!
Incorrect: “You have the first part of the form right, but the second one needs some work.”
Correct: “You have the first part of the form right and with some good practice everyday over the next week you will have it nailed!”
This is what we do as martial arts leaders! We help people focus on the improvement and how good it feels, and not on the negative when we fall or fail!
Focus on the problem too much you will never find a solution, focus on the solution and you will find more than one to your problem.