Allowing young women to make mistakes is smarter than spoon-feeding them. Experience of making mistakes, talking about it openly with a mentor or project coordinator and understanding that mistakes aren’t the end of the world is truly valuable for young women.
We know that many women are scared about trying new things due to a lack of confidence or fear of others’ judgement. As adults, we may still see this in ourselves, but we understand that learning to judge risks, trying new things, learning from mistakes, and persevering are essential skills for success in all areas of our lives. It’s also important to remember that we can model this. When things go wrong (and a constant of youth work is things not going to plan!), how do they see us react?
It’s easy to get frustrated or lose hope when things go wrong. But we can use this as an opportunity to engage them in the process of starting again, overcoming, or mitigating risk. That lesson might be much more valuable than anything they could have learnt in your planned activity. When their plans don’t work, it can seem easier to move to another activity, but it could be better to give them the chance to understand what went wrong and re-plan. Any attempts to succeed in life require staying in power, courage, perseverance, and problem-solving. Failing and overcoming develop all of these.
- How do you help young people to reflect on failure? Is it by seeing what they have learnt, rather than where they didn’t succeed?
- How do you encourage them to try again?
- How do you create an environment where the other young people are encouraging and supportive and see the value in trying new things, rather than condemning failure?
- How do you model this yourself when you fail? And how do ensure that your activities allow young people opportunities to fail and overcome?
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