All of us are afraid of failure. Every dream that we have involves being successful. And being a successful parent is certainly the biggest dream.
What is your Parenting dream?
Most parents dream of raising a successful child. Do you?
And what is your Parenting nightmare?
Most parent’s greatest fear is – that their children will grow into failures. Is it yours?
If you are a parent like most others you would probably answer those questions with “Yes”.
“Dreaming of success is good and also natural. And there is nothing wrong with dreaming of success.
What is wrong and dangerous is – the fear of failure.”
Why do we fear failure?
We fear failure because we believe that failure is the opposite of success. But it is not.
Failure is a part of success.
It is only when we learn to overcome failure – that we succeed.
What does nature want children to learn about failure?
Nature teaches us that failure is inevitable. Nature teaches us – that – “The only way to succeed is to overcome failure.”
“How to cope with and overcome failure” is the first lesson – nature wants every baby who enters planet earth to learn.
And that is why nature makes breast-feeding so difficult.
Breastfeeding teaches newborns that all achievement lies on the other side of great effort.
Breastfeeding teaches babies not to fear failure but to overcome it with determination and hard work.
It is nature’s first lesson. It is a lesson essential for survival.
Nature proclaims “You must fail before you succeed”. Parents however – disagree.
Failure is socially unacceptable. “Success at any cost” is the modern parent’s motto.
And that is why we have formula feeds and feeding bottles.
What do parents teach children about failure?
Parental teachings about failure differ starkly from nature’s teachings. Parents teach children what they know about failure.
“You are worthy of love and respect only if you succeed.”
“You must succeed every time – all the time – even if it is the first time you are doing something”
“You are successful only when you meet everyone else’s definition of success.”
“Success is inconsequential until those around you are convinced that you are successful”
“Failure is unacceptable”
“If you fail you will be tolerated. If you succeed – you will be revered”
What happens when children learn the wrong things about failure?
Telling a child that he must always necessarily succeed – is the most effective way to bring up a child who will be a failure.
A child who is taught that failure is something to be ashamed of – will start behaving in one of the following ways
A: He will begin to hate what he does because Fear of Failure is his prime motivation for learning or working
B: He will find excuses not to do things because he fears that if he fails – he will no longer be worthy of love and respect. He will avoid attempting anything in which there is even a remote chance of failing by postponing or not participating. To an observer he will appear lazy – but actually he is not motivated because he is afraid.
C: He will begin to focus on excelling where there is no chance of failure. And in many cases he will discover that the easiest way he can ensure success is by doing things which are foolish and risky because there is no competition there. Desperation to succeed at something somewhere – will becoming the driving force – because as he sees it – success is everything
Is your child struggling with failure? Contact us for help
Yes failure is painful. But not teaching children how to cope with failure can be even more painful in the long run.
Why should children learn the right things about failure?
When children learn the right things about failure – failure and disappointment actually become good for them.
As loving parents we often go to great lengths to protect our children from disappointment and failure in the early years.
We buy them the toy that another kid has. We fight to protect them from every playground tiff. We spring into action if they are left out of birthday parties, if they are not included in playground games, if they are left out of school events etc.
We do this without realizing that – introduction to failure early in life is a beautiful thing because – to a small child – no failure is too big.
Also with every failure comes the opportunity to realize – “I am strong enough to handle this”
Start with your toddler. Every time he/she falls repeat the mantra – “What do we do when we fall – we get up and run again”. It creates a positive state of mind – that ensures easy recovery from failure.
You can do these 3 things to give your child the right message about failure
1. Be a good role model
Acknowledge your mistakes and shortcomings. Live the life of a learner and a conqueror.
If you park badly – don’t say “Oh! I just can’t park!” Say – “That is terrible parking. I must practice parking – I must get it right”
Make statements like this – part of your daily vocabulary –
“I’ll try harder next time”
“I have done well this time – but next time I will try to do it even better”
“It’s OK not to win all the time – it is most important to have fun”
When things are not going so well at work – take it in your stride. Use it as an opportunity to show your child how to deal with disappointment and failure.
2. Encourage children to embrace difficulty
As loving parents we express our love by making things easy for our children.
But children don’t want that. They want to do what is difficult. They want to attempt and conquer the seemingly impossible
Don’t be over protective. Never assume that your child is shy or weak or anything like that. Introduce new things and emphasize that the idea is to learn and have fun learning – not to become a world champion. Always emphasize effort and improvement. When children are challenged they discover amazing things about their abilities.
Say “Where is the fun in doing something easy? Let’s try something more difficult.”
3. Be your child’s guide, not his savior
Allow your child to fail.
We always want to protect our kids from unhappiness and so we try our best to protect them from failure. But it’s important to step back and allow children to fail. Swooping in and fixing the problem does not allow children to either learn about failure or how to manage it.
Failure makes children resilient. Little failures and disappointments teach children how they to rebound from failure. The ability to handle failure with a positive attitude ensures persistence. And persistence is the most important ingredient for success.
Empathize with your child. Convey that you feel and understand his pain. But also help him discover what went wrong and why he failed. Help him identify what he could do to ensure a different outcome the next time around. That is what your role in your child’s failures should be.
Always remember – resilience is not an inborn trait.
Resilience is a combination of behaviors, thoughts, and actions that can be learned and developed.
Help your child succeed by helping him develop the resilience to endure and overcome failure.
Expert speak Preschool – help your child to enjoy it