"It's okay to fail. Everybody fails once in a while. The important thing is how you react to the failure. I would rather be someone who is able to bounce back after a failure than someone who has never failed."
"Look at the positives. It's a good chance to learn how to rebound from a setback. Try to think about what went wrong, figure a way to improve your shortcomings, make this failure worthwhile, make it a seed for future success."
Try driving these pep talks to a nine-year old little girl who had just brought back a poor exam result and were feeling down after a session with her mother, and you'd realise how difficult parenting can be, effective parenting, that is.
My little girl has always been up and down with her grades. My wife and I practise a good-cop-bad-cop routine on her with her academic progress. My wife, being the bad cop, would exert pressure when required, and I would come in to release the pressure from her when I think fit. In this particular instance, it's especially bad for my little girl.
She's a bit over-confident prior to the exam and was slightly slack in her preparation, despite numerous reminders from her mom. Therefore, when she brought home a poor mark that barely extended beyond the passing mark, she was in for a storm.
Lesson learnt? I guess so. I hope so.
Did my subsequent pep talks work? Well, she seemed blur on the message "Look at the positives from the failure", but she could totally accept and understand "It's OK to fail" - loud and clear.
But her worries were not over yet. She was to receive the results for a few other subjects the next day. Her confidence being on the lows, her eyebrows were locked the whole night fearing another round of bad marks comes tomorrow.
Another opportunity to practise my parenting skill? - Definitely.
"Be brave. Own up to your work", "Have courage to face the consequences of your own doing", "Be brave, be courageous", "With bravery and courage, nothing needs to be feared", "Be brave, be courageous" - "Baba, you said that already."
After another round of ineffective pep talks on a blank and frowning face, I finally accepted the wisdom of "It's OK to fail", and went to sleep with the "Look at the positives from the failure" at the back of my mind. It's a good thing I don't have to present my marks from effective parenting to any cops.
So, how do you instil bravery and courage into a nine-year-old?
The next day, I think I did it. I hope I did it.
When I got home that day after work, I was a bit anxious about how my little girl went through her day. To my relief, my little girl ran to me and gave me a big hug with a big smile. I think my "trick" worked. I hope my "trick" worked.
Right before I left for work that morning, inspiration struck me. I tore out a piece of paper, and on it I wrote the word Yong Qi (Courage in Chinese). That's it? No. I felt something was missing, it lacked punches - there is nothing there to back it up.
"Jie Jie, Baba's going to give you Courage to bring to school today, OK?" I told my just-awaken daughter, with a cheeky, but encouraging smile.
"Huh?" My little girl put on a puzzled and skeptical look. None the less, she accepted the piece of paper. The piece of paper with the word Yong Qi and signed with "From Baba who loves you very much!".
I'm not really sure the trick worked for you that day, Jie Jie, but I hope soon, you'll be able to draw bravery and courage from within you and face any problem with your head held high, and a smile on your face. But I guess that piece of paper is a good start. Love, Baba.