Fear of Failing and Helicopter Parents

photo posted on post-gazette.comArticles in the Daily Telegraph and Evening Standard both comment on a warning given in a newsletter from The Good Schools Guide warning that constant parental pressure to succeed creates a gereration who will not pursue new challenges for fear of failing. The Good Schools Guide Newsletter suggests “Somewhere around year nine, just as children start to assert their own independence, attentive parenting can mutate into undue pressure.” Parents are also strongly advised to step back and allow children to make their own subject choices at GCSE and beyond.

Oxford High School for Girls is reported to be preparing a maths test where it is impossible to get 100% to prevent students becoming obsessed with being “Little Miss Perfect”, while Wimbledon High School runs a “failure week” to teach pupils to build resilience. When preparing pupils to go out and face the world it is important to stress to young people that there is no straight ladder to success – no matter how many A* grades you may have. In fact these days, on the Snakes and Ladders board of life, there are a lot more snakes to slide down than there used to be.

At Prep4 we look on this as a challenge and an integral part of the preparation for the new world which we offer to young people who can find themselves rudderless at key points in their developing lives. Our individual mentoring sessions have helped to turn round the career prospects of some candidates who had lost all sense of direction. Part of our process is to help the young people to understand that the whole concept of career success or failure as an absolute is fast being replaced by a newer model, part of which is, as it is sometimes dubbed ‘the portfolio career’. More on this in a future blog soon.


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