Have you ever stood out in the crowd as a spectator cheering on your child for a glorious win at a spelling bee, a sporting event, or a contest of some sort? You cheer and pump your fist in the air, sharing in the glorious feeling that comes with winning. However, a win is never guaranteed for any child.
Perhaps you have seen the heartbreak on your child’s face after suffering the loss of a victory that slipped through the cracks. Maybe your first thought is to discourage your child from competing so you can protect him or her from yet another heartbreaking loss. Yet it is important to realize that it is okay to let your children fail.
How Does Failure Benefit?
Believe it or not, letting your child fail provides important lessons. When children first learn to walk, they teeter totter on wobbly legs and often fall in the process. If we didn’t allow our children to experience those falls and uneasy steps, we would spend our days carrying around full-grown children.
If you never let your child experience failure, they grow to think that failure is unacceptable. As such, they lack a sense of resiliency when they inevitably do fail at something. A child that is not exposed to failure does not know how to handle the situation, which makes it hard to bounce back.
How Do You Support Failure?
You should, of course, always encourage your child to try his or her best. However, you should not treat failure as though it is the end of the world. Instead, show your support so you can help your child build resiliency and internal strength.
Most importantly, do not intervene as a means of trying to protect your child from failure. In doing so, parents show children they do not trust them to manage their own choices. Instead, take a step back and encourage your child to keep trying. By failing and recovering from failure, children learn that failure is not the end of the road. Instead, it is a stepping stone that build character and strength.
There is a difference between pointing out a failure as though it is a big deal if your child tried and failed compared to a child who did not try and failed. If your child puts in no effort and fails, it is a good idea to explain why a lack of effort could have led to poor results.
However, if you watched your child try and fail, you should encourage your child to get up, dust off, and try again. It is often said that practice makes perfect. In the end, your children will not remember the devastation of a loss. They will remember that you were there as a source of healthy support and encouragement.
If you need help figuring out how to turn failure into a healthy life lesson, a qualified therapist can help. I look forward to helping you build your child’s resiliency and strength. Book an appointment with me today so we can talk more about the correct ways to embrace failure as a character building lesson.