Positive Parenting: Learning from errors

New research shows mistakes may actually be the key to learning.
Updated: May. 20, 2021 at 7:53 AM EDT
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ORLANDO, Fla. (WILX) - A fear of failure can hinder academic success. Many students become so focused on avoiding errors that they don’t challenge themselves at school. And now remote learning has amplified this problem for some. But new research shows mistakes may actually be the key to learning.

“There’s learning that happens when children experience some challenges academically,” said Angel Harris, PhD, Professor of Sociology and Public Policy at Duke University.

Researchers from Columbia University reviewed numerous studies and found when students make errors that are followed up with corrective feedback, they learn better and ultimately remember the correct answers long-term. And the benefit of making an error was strongest when the student firmly believed their answer was correct.

The research suggests parents and teachers should encourage and support low-risk mistakes, but also give clear feedback so students can learn. To help your child overcome a fear of failure, emphasize effort over ability. That means praising your child for working hard, instead of getting an answer correct. Also, encourage students to practice self-compassion when they fail. And model a healthy response to failure when you make a mistake.

A recent survey by Linkagoal found that 31 percent of adults reported suffering from a fear of failure, a larger percentage than those who feared spiders.

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