When your child is struggling, has setbacks or even fails, do you focus on the failure and their abilities, or do you focus on what they can learn from it?
One of the greatest challenges for parents and teachers is to support kids without setting them up for failure. By this, I mean we want to help them enough so they can do things on their own but not so much that they expect other people to do it for them and don’t learn to make it to the next level on their own.
As parents, we naturally want our kids to succeed. However, from my experience, all kids are afraid to fail because from an early age, they are conditioned to strive for perfection, especially in athletics and academics. What would happen if we could recognize failure as a good thing and another step on the path to learning? What if we acknowledge failure as a necessary component of success?
Scientific studies have shown that our brains grow and develop in important ways when we encounter failure. The studies have shown that children that undergo a variety of challenging experiences develop better coping mechanisms and problem-solving skills.
When kids understand these concepts, amazing things begin to happen. It increases their cerebral responses and allows them to turn their failures into positive learning experiences by focusing on what went wrong and discovering how to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
As parents and teachers, we all know that failure is inevitable. One of the most important ways for us to help children when they encounter failure is how we respond. Because how we respond will influence how our child will perceive the situation.
If we try to shield children from stressful situations, key brain function cannot develop. So why not embrace failure as a natural part of the learning process. Discuss the FAIL acronym. Tell your child that if they fail, they should never give up. Tell them F. A. I. L. stands for “First Attempt In Learning,” which means they get to try again and again.
Emphasize the Failing Forward concept and teach them how to learn from their mistakes. Ask questions like, “What did you learn?” “What would you do next time?” Always remind them that failure doesn’t eliminate choices—it just creates new ones.
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Steve Doherty, MS/1st Dan – Taekwondo