“When a scene of Mr. Rogers assembling a tent comes to nought, Rogers, rather than retaking it or seeking another character’s help, completes the scene as is and makes his failure to assemble it the crucial theme, later explaining his decision to Vogel: “It’s important for children to know that adults’ plans don’t always work out.” The New Yorker 11/21/19
While there are so many lessons we can all learn from Mr. Rogers, I immediately thought of the importance of the R in GOSTRONG when I saw this scene in the movie. R stands for Revise. Having a plan is important but equally important is what you do when the plan isn’t working. The most common option for those with executive function difficulties is to quit. You can’t figure out how to upload the assignment? Just quit looking. Your lab experiment didn’t work out? Don’t write it up. The Internet goes down? No homework tonight!
It’s important for children to know that adults’ plans don’t always work out. And there are plenty of opportunities for children to observe adults’ failed plans nowadays with home also being the school and the office. Own your mistakes and let children see that success isn’t always a straight line.
“Failure is not the opposite of success; it’s part of success.” Arianna Huffington
Whether it involves home or school, the ability to see adults needing to modify their plans is essential to the development of the skill in children. Often teachers are resistance to share their full plan and timetable for an assignment from start to finish. They explain that too much can happen creating the need to change the plan. And I respond, “Exactly!” The G, the O, the S and the T of GOSTSRONG are important but the remaining letters are of equal importance. Plans fail or need modification. What do you do when that happens?
As you own the shortcomings of a particular plan, share with your children what you will do next-what are the revisions that will allow you to ultimately meet the initial goal. Discuss whether there was a fault in your plan that you didn’t recognize initially or was it just an unforeseen circumstance. Show your kids that the answer isn’t to punt but rather to revise. Be specific with your wording and your description. For example,
“I planned to grill some chicken for dinner tonight but the thunderstorm won’t let that happen. I’m sure you all want dinner tonight so I will cook the chicken in the oven instead.”
“I know the schedule says we will have a test Friday but we have had such great discussions this week, we haven’t gotten through all the material. I will move the test to Monday.”
Just as Mr. Rogers made the decision to keep going, we too need to show kids that failure is a part of life, not a stop sign, and to keep going, you need to revise.