As a father, are you giving your children the wrong message when you tell them to never give up, but also never let them fail?
Standardized tests, extracurricular activities, instilling a can-do, stick-with-it attitude, these are some of the recent parenting trends. Many parents today focus on raising children with drive and ambition, children who will succeed.
But the truth is that failure is inevitable along the road to success. As a father, are you giving your children the wrong message when you tell them to never give up, but also never let them fail? Failure teaches lessons. Sometimes, you need to remind your children of the benefits of failure.
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According to research, children who internalize the idea that failure is unacceptable are often vulnerable to anxiety, fear change and are reluctant to try new things.
They lack resilience, or the ability to bounce back from life’s disappointments, which is a crucial life skill.
So start working early to build their internal strength as well as their ability to handle disappointment. As a father, if you demonstrate your belief in your child’s abilities and your certainty that eventually, they will get that task they have tried 10 times, chances are high they will echo that belief in themselves.
Constantly intervening when they are trying something sends the message that you don’t trust your child to manage their own fate which might inspire them to stop trying to overcome new challenges altogether.
Failing and then recovering from it teaches children that failure isn’t life-ending. Rather, it’s just one step along the way. So, if you are ready to let your kid fail, how do you do it?
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You have nagged, pleaded and threatened, and your son still hasn’t studied for his English test. It might be time to let him get that C. Very few failures in life are life-ruining, and at some point, your child will have to learn how to self-motivate.
When you let your child fail, avoid shaming them. Instead, stay present with your child, and don’t abandon them to whatever it is that they are struggling with. Demonstrate a new chore, and praise their attempts to get it right.
You can also talk them through what changes they could make next time to do better like starting to study for that test a week earlier.
Failing can be reframed as trying, practicing and putting in effort. When choosing your words to describe what happened, emphasize concepts of trying and learning rather than failure.
And don’t be afraid to point out if they didn’t put in any effort and how that might have led to the poor result. It’s a balance of acceptance and change. It’s about accepting that the situation is what it is and seeking for ways to change it while learning from the experience too.
As in any parenting situation, try to avoid saying anything caustic, mean or overly critical. Don’t belittle or put your child down, but do relate to them. The key is to normalize failure so your child knows he’s not the only one who doesn’t get things right on the first try.
So tell a story of a time that you failed, didn’t get the part in the school play, failed to score a goal during a football game and model for your child how you handled it. Don’t just say, ‘It’s okay, you will do better next time.
It’s invalidating to brush off a child’s feelings of frustration and disappointment. Instead, you can validate and acknowledge their emotions by saying “That was a tough loss,” but also remind them that they will get more chances to succeed.