The Growth of Failure

by ParentCo. October 23, 2019

Cartoon of depressed lady

We all want our children to be successful but many times in order to really achieve greatness the kids have to fail a few times. By teaching our children that failure isn't a horrible thing we are setting them up for a happier life. No one wants to fall flat on their face. The fear of not being able to win keeps many kids from even attempting new experiences. By teaching our kids that they will survive when they fail is an important tool for their personal development. Knowing that their parents have their backs even when they can't achieve their goals the first time helps kids take on challenges that they may shy away from otherwise. Showing our kids that failure is important for ultimate success takes work and admitting that we make mistakes. It's hard to show children all of our personal flaws but if your children only see the successes of their parents they believe that perfection is easy.

By being upbeat when we fail and then go at it again kids know that failure isn't the end of the story but only the beginning. Teaching our children about a positive outlook in the face of failure is especially important for overachievers. Most families have that one child that always does well in school to the point that they stress out when their marks are not perfect. They are the ones that the work they are doing in school has always been easy. Getting straight As becomes part of their view of themselves. When they are faced with getting their first F they become devastated believing that their academic life is over. This is when failure training is vital. And that training starts with a celebration. It may seem strange to celebrate a bad grade but the first major failure is an important step in a child's life.

By doing something special with them when they are feeling horrible it shows your child that you know how hard they are working and you are proud of them for that work. Believe it or not this approach works. One of our daughters was that prized child who never failed until Grade 11 when a math class was just too hard. She had most of the concepts but a few gave her problems and in the end she failed the course. When report cards came out she was heartbroken, thinking that she would never make it into university because of that one bad mark on an otherwise spotless record. I told her to put on her coat, we were going out to dinner to celebrate. She was shocked at the response but got ready. During the dinner we talked about the grade and I told her how proud I was of her for the work she had done so far. I also let her know that when she would be able to take the class again and master it. During her "failure celebration" we were able to break down steps on how she could achieve her goals for success the next time around and that getting an F was not the end of the world. By the time dessert rolled around she was excited about taking the class the next term and knew that she would do better the second time around. And she did.

By teaching our children that achieving their goals can take many attempts and failing is just the first step to success we are setting them up for life. Helping them be able to celebrate even when it seems like their goals are not achievable builds kids who know that in the end they can conquer the world. And that's what we want for all of our children.



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