Prof’s de Roulet and Pecoraro discuss an excellent article: How Parents Can Help College Students Value Their Mistakes from College Parents of America.

LINKS: College Parents of America   /   How Parents Can Help College Students Value Their Mistakes


 Tips for managing difficult days.



Don’t jump in to rescue your student.

Let him make the mistake – even though you may see it coming.  Remember that this can be a positive experience.

  • There is value in allowing your college student to succeed and fail.
  • This doesn’t mean that I don’t give my son or daughter a heads up.
  • It is important for them to feel the consequences of failure.

Help your student evaluate the experience.

Making a mistake can be helpful if it means that your next decision will be different.  What has he learned from this experience?  What will he do differently next time?

  • We always want there to be learning.
  • Parents, you are in wonderful positions to help your son or daughter process the experience, more so than the professor.

Help your student remember that learning is a process.

  • There’s a reason that a B.A. degree takes about 4 years or so to complete.

Avoid dwelling on the mistake.

  • Help your son or daughter to process the mistake and move on.

Help your student understand that one key to learning from being wrong is admitting that you are wrong.

Help him bear the consequences of his choices and decisions.  Help him take responsibility for his actions.  Don’t allow him to blame the college, the instructor, friends, roommates, the situation.

  • It’s never easy to do. “Yes your honor, I did this!”
  • “Manning” or “Womaning” up to it is important and a part of the learning process.
  • Look for the warning signs of depression.
  • “It’s not my fault professor that you gave me that grade! What were you thinking?” (Of course, we professors do not see it that way, it is the grade that the student earned.)

Try to find some successes in the experience.

What did she do right?  Did she handle the situation well?  Did she show integrity and honesty in admitting to the mistake?  Look at the positives.

  • I have students who did not turn in their work because they were not happy with it.

Help your student try to determine what caused the mistake.

Was it caused by a lack of knowledge?  Poor judgment?  Carelessness?  Learning the cause may help prevent another, similar mistake.

  • What we are after here is to help the student not to repeat the same mistake in the future. Fix it!

Help your student put this situation in perspective.

Is it a large, serious mistake, or something easily rectified?  It may not be as serious as it seems.

  • This is tough for students. Is this the end of the world?

Help your student use this as an opportunity to reevaluate his actions and his choices.

In the long run, the problem will not be the mistake itself, but not learning from the mistake and evolving.

  • What can be learned from this?
  • Not learning from the mistake is often what will do us in. It will sink an educational career.
  • Encourage your student to sit down at the end of a year and evaluate what went well and what did not.
  • Parents, you want to be there for them to help them evaluate the situation.

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