Failure Can Be a Gift
Helicopter parents hover; they are always there to make sure that there are no bumps in the road for their children.
Another aspect to this dynamic is the fear of failure. That is, fear of our children’s failures. All too often we want to protect them from all failure. Is that a good thing?
I would say no. Failure is a part of life; any time we try anything, particularly anything new, we may fail. The challenge is to learn from failure rather than resist.
Twelve-year old Ayden has a Social Studies test tomorrow. His parents set him up with his books and guide him through his studies. He reads a section then they sit with him and quiz him until they know that he has the information securely stored in his memory. They do this for about two hours and then review the material in the morning.
Twelve-year old Alex has the same test tomorrow. His parents wish him the best, send him off to study and let him know that they are there for him if he needs any assistance. Alex spends most of his time fooling around and very little of it studying.
The next day Ayden does well on the test and Alex fails.
What did they learn? Ayden learned that he can count on his parents to ensure that he’s ready for anything; it is not up to him. He just needs to be present.
Alex learned that if he doesn’t take responsibility for his homework there will be consequences. He learns that he needs to settle down and do his homework. His failure has been a personal learning experience.
We know that research, innovation and discovery do not come as automatic successes. The most exciting breakthroughs come after hours, days, months or years of effort and failure. But each failure brings the researcher one step closer to success. But she needs to have learned that failure teaches a lesson and then she is able to move on with the new and improved information.
Think about when your child was learning to walk. Now this is usually a four to ten-month process. The baby starts as a newborn who can wave his arms and legs, learns to roll over front to back, back to front. From rolling they start to wriggle, then crawl and so on. The point is that each stage brings lots of failure but our persistent children stick with it and move forward despite falling on their well-padded bottoms or bumping into furniture. But one day they are walking and then running and then jumping. They have no concept of failure, they just see process and learning from their mistakes.
We need to allow our kids to continue with this attitude.
Instead of blaming the teacher and protecting our youngster when he has a problem at school, we need to work with the teacher and help our child learn from their mistakes.
Kids who are protected by caring parents from dealing with their shortcomings soon learn that they can do anything they want because there are no consequences. They are not learning to take responsibility for their actions.
When we over-protect or cover for our kids, when we protect them from the consequences of their mistakes we are not raising children to become capable young men and women. They are actually in for the shock of their lives when they hit a post-secondary institution or the workplace and learn that they, and they alone are responsible for their actions.
They will have difficulties problem-solving, they will shun being innovative or creative (which almost always includes some failure) and they may experience paralysis from anxiety when they have to handle disappointments and move on.
It all starts when they are little. I watched an 18-month old toddler crawl under an end table and get stuck. He cried. His mother sat on the floor close to him and talked him out of his dilemma. She resisted moving the table and scooping him up in her waiting arms. He learned to pay more attention to where he was going instead of just barreling ahead hoping it would all work out.
Failure can be a gift. Let your children learn from both their successes and their failures and they will become capable young men and women.
Bring Kathy to your Community
Do you want to hear more? Kathy is always happy to come and speak in your community, at you event or as a workplace wellness presentation. On her website you can find more information on her material.
My presentations will share a basic value that I call
P — is a parenting plan
U — is unconditional love
R — is respect for your child as he is right now
E — is encouragement
Digital Books Make Parenting Information More Accessible.
There are times when digital is the perfect answer and let’s face it, on a holiday having access to hundreds of books on one small tablet is ideal. I always have my kindle with me when I’m out and about.
There are lots of times when a busy parent would like to be able to simply read and my books are digital and make it easier for you to take a look.
Two of my parenting books started as print versions but the third is only digital. The first two are also now in digital format. Who’s in Charge Anyway? talks about roots. It provides a clear road map for parent to focus on the tough but rewarding job of raising children to be responsible, self-disciplined adults.
But Nobody Told Me I’d Ever Have to Leave Home talks about raising children to become capable young men and women.
And Vive la Différence talks about the unique kids and situations which need a special look.
Come and take a look. These may be just the resource you need.