1. Make sure the child clearly sees the connection between his own effort and school success. Children who perceive this connection are more likely to respond to difficult tasks and/or failure with less frustration and with positive expectations about the outcome of the event.
2. Make sure that you define "effort" correctly, telling the student that effort is spending effective and strategic time on the learning task. Just trying harder or spending time doing random activities that are not working is not effective effort. Effective and strategic effort focuses on using learning strategies and procedures, that is, trying hard in a particular way is what leads to success. When the strategy or procedure that the child is trying is not working, we tell him or her to try a different strategy or procedure. Teaching students to make strategic effort attributions help them see failure and academic difficulties as problem solving situations in which the search for a strategy to use becomes their focus. When we train an apathetic and unmotivated student in using strategic effort attributions, we can weaken the child's perception that his/her lack of ability is the problem, helping the child understand that the problem lies in using an ineffective learning strategy or procedure. The child simply needs to find a better strategy to solve that particular problem.
3. Teach the child to see academic errors and mistakes as her cue to change the learning strategy that she is using.
4. Model the student how to manage failure and setbacks in a constructive and strategic way, for example, you can say, "This is not working. What is another way that I can do this?" Alternatively, you can say, "What is another strategy that I can try?"