As a parent you don’t like to see your child fail. Whether that’s falling down when they first start to walk, doing horrible on a test in school, or even getting fired from a job. We don’t want them to go through pain and suffering that can come with failing. We want our children to be happy and successful. Unfortunately they way we often approach failure can keep them from being happy and successful.
In this episode, we are looking at how letting your child fail is a good thing. We’ll go some of the myths around failure and some of the benefits that failing can bring. We will also touch on some ways you can support your child when they do fail. Failure is a really powerful thing. Sometimes the intention of the parent can be good, but the reality of protecting your child from failure is not. Here are some common myths around children failing:
Myth: If I don’t let my child fail, it means I love them
Good examples of this is helicopter parenting or lawn mower parenting where parents do everything in their power to make sure their child is protected from everything. I’m not going to say you don’t love your child, but if you want what is truly best for them, you allow them to fail. You can be there to support them or coach them but keeping them from failing isn’t the answer.
Another Myth: If my child fails, it looks bad on me
Parents will protect their child from failing because they think it makes themselves look bad. There is a huge college admissions scandal happening right now. Parents illegally paid a lot of money to get their children into prestigious schools. A lot of this revolves around these parents being very concerned with the specific school that their child goes to because they feel it’s a reflection of them. As hard as it can be, we have to let our children live their own life and make their own choices.
And Another Myth: If my child fails, they will never be successful
Successful people fail, and they typically fail a lot. The difference is that they have learned how to bounce back from failure. They have built that muscle where failure doesn’t knock them down for very long or at all.
So how is failure considered a good thing? Let’s look at some of the benefits of our children failing:
1) They are more likely to take risks – If it’s ok to fail, then it’s ok to try. We want our children to try new things and take some risks in life.
This could be trying a new sport or instrument, pursuing a person they are interested in, or maybe going after a job they desire. Taking risks can positively impact our lives.
2) They build resilience – You can’t always control what happens to you in your life, but you can control how it effects you. Resiliency helps you recover faster and get through difficult things.
Each time your child fails and then recovers from it, they are building up their resiliency. Negative things will eventually begin to effect them less.
3) They avoid making the mistake in the future – It’s important to learn from our mistakes. If a child is protected from failure, they won’t learn anything. We ultimately want them to be able to take care of themselves and be self-sufficient.
4) They build self esteem – Bouncing back from failure is extremely powerful. Like building resiliency, a child will build their self-esteem every time they recover. Their confidence will increase.
So great, you are allowing your child to fail. But can what do you do to support them? Allowing them to fail doesn’t mean you abandon them. You can still be there to coach them and encourage them. Here are some suggestions on how you can support them:
1) Make it a teachable moment – You might ask them, “what do you think you could have done differently to have a different outcome?” There may be an opportunity to learn something from the experience.
2) Be empathetic – Instead of saying “hey it’s ok, don’t worry about.” Say “I can see you are upset by this. I can imagine it’s difficult.” I will continue to say this over and over, empathy is the most important tool in parenting (words on screen)
3) Give them unconditional love – Whether they win or lose, your love is unconditional. They need to know that failure and mistakes are ok and they will be loved no matter what.
This last point is so important as children begin to shape their perceptions. If they perceive that success means being loved and failure is not being loved, you are going to be faced with some bigger issues. Be sure your child knows you love them no matter what.
I’d love to hear from you. What are your thoughts on failure? Do you feel like it’s ok for you to fail? Leave your feedback in the comments section below.