I always say that our job as parents is to make sure that are children are successful in life. Of course, it’s up to us, as parents, to figure out exactly how to raise a child to be successful.
There’s something that you might not know about parenting and successful children. And that includes letting your child fail, because failure teacher your children how to handle difficult situations on their own and also how to learn from them…
And if you think about it, the more we fail, the more we learn techniques to help us become more successful. Right?
If you want to raise your child so that he or she has character, strength, and is eventually successful in their life, LET THEM FAIL! (And then be there to help pick them back up.)
Now, this may sound like brutal parenting, but take a look at how your children have learned over the years. Let’s talk about little Sally. Little Sally started out as a newborn who didn’t know how to talk or walk or do anything. You had to do everything for her, right? Now, because little Sally fell down a million times and mispronounced word a million times, she was actually failing and learning.
I know it’s actually kind of a negative way of looking at things. But, it is honestly the way that things work with us humans.
Let’s fast forward, a few years from now when little Sally is interested in sports or maybe a part in a school play. What do you do if she doesn’t get the part that she tried out for or make the sports team? What do you do if she makes a sports team but cannot hit, pass, or catch the ball to save her life?
This is where you need to let her failures teach her how to succeed. Encourage her to try it again next time around but most importantly, we need to teach our children how to overcome their anxieties about failing. And we need to teach them that failing is okay as long as we learn from it.
But, how do we do this?
Let’s look at this concept from a different perspective.
Why We Don’t Want Our Kids to Fail
First of all, it’s understood that it hurts us as parents when our children fail. Not necessarily because we need them to succeed or it makes us feel like failures as parents, but more so because it hurts them when they fail. And, what hurts our children hurts us.
We want them to succeed at everything, because then they will feel good about themselves.
But, setting your child up to succeed all the time by only permitting them to do what they will obviously succeed up can also be setting them up to fail. What do I mean by this? You’re going to help your child select classes in school that you feel like they will get an A in, rather than choosing challenging courses that there’s a chance they will fail.
Two psychologists, Dan Kindlon and Madeline Levine have studied these concepts. They wrote that people who were overprotected by their parents are more likely to experience difficulties during their teenage years and young adulthood when they were confronted with real life problems. These people are not accustomed to finding solutions to problems, because their parents always solved problems for them or kept them from facing failure, therefore they struggle with handling problems on their own.
Does this mean that we have to set up our children to fail so they can become successful?Essentially, yes. Whenever anyone attempts to do something that they have never done, something that they are not familiar with, there is always a chance of failure. Right?
Here’s what we need to remember: we will be right there beside them when they fail to teach them how to overcome the feelings that are associated with failing and we can teach them how to deal with the feelings and use the experience to learn from.
It’s called…character building. And, believe it or not, failing is one of the best ways to build character, if used correctly.
As a matter of fact, a local psychologist here in Buffalo, NY, Mark Seery, led a team of psychologists here at the University of Buffalo in some research regarding these concepts. This group of researchers found that when adults have grown up without – or with very little – adversity in their lives, they ended up less confident and satisfied in their lives, as opposed to people who had been through some ‘rough times’ in childhood. It sounds a bit backwards from what we would expect, but these researchers suggested that overcoming obstacles “could teach effective coping skills, help engage social support networks, create a sense of mastery over past adversity, [and] foster beliefs in the ability to cope successfully in the future. So, although we want to protect our children from the hurts and ouchies in life, we also have to let them experience some of them. Now, I’m not saying that you should stand back and let your child suffer with bad decisions and mistakes, while pointing the finger and saying, “I told you so!”
On the contrary, although you “let” your child fail, you also are going to be there for them when they find their back against the wall or their face flat on the floor. Talk to your child, ask them what they could have done better. How would they handle the situation in the future?
Turn every failure into a learning lesson.
Don’t fear letting your child fail, because it is good for them. Let them try new things, let them experience the let downs in life. Just be there for them when they fall, help them dust their jeans off, and remind them that every failure helps them learn something new about themselves, the world that they live in, and life in general.
Failing is okay, as long as you learn something from it.