Benefits of Allowing Your Child to Fail

While allowing kids to fail feels messy and frightening, letting them learn from their mistakes helps them to become empowered, releasing the controlling hold of fear that paralyzes decisions and helps develop lasting, deep rooted accountability along with, ironically, building the self confidence that comes with personal autonomy and recovery from failure.

Failure is a part of life. Some of the most successful people in this world have seen the depths of failure. Walt Disney was fired from his job because of his lack of imagination. Dr. Suess had his first book rejected by 27 different publishers. Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first anchor television job. Failure was not the end of the road for them.

The benefits of failure are vast and encompassing. To name a few, failure builds empathy. It builds resilience and creativity. Failure can boost motivation and determination if it is harnessed and redirected for good.

The question is how to make sure that failure becomes the launching pad instead of the destination for children. There are some things that a parent can do to help failure be the fuel and not the extinguisher to the fire of motivation.

Dr. Ann-Louise Lockhart, an experienced pediatric psychologist, highlights some of the ways that mistakes can become a way of learning and progress.

First, parents can let their child see and set realistic expectations. Many times, children are afraid to try something because of the fear of failure. However, parents can acknowledge this fear while instilling the realistic expectation that becoming good at something takes time and practice. Failure will be part of the progress of developing a skill or talent.

Second, parents can guide their child to develop a healthy self-concept. Failure can be one of the fastest ways to belittle and degrade oneself but that does not have to happen. If children are taught at a young age how to turn this negative self-talk into compassion, their world becomes filled with more possibilities. Resilience and perseverance can grow from it.

Third, mistakes empower children to find the confidence to try again. If children never made a mistake, they would think perfection has been achieved. This is a false sense of perfection. However, if children know that failure is a real possibility and reality, they can become empowered to try again and again. This empowerment can lead to greater success in the future. Empowerment not only can come from failure but from the developmentally appropriate autonomy that children are granted.

These benefits of failing can be a good reminder for parents to guide the child through the ups and downs of learning and making mistakes. Mistakes can be the greatest teacher, if only we let them be.

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Monday, 24 January 2022

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