A mother once told me that her child could not get through a practice spelling test at home without crying. She explained that each time her daughter got a word wrong she would become overwhelmed with emotion. I could sympathize with her, as I know a lot of children struggle with making mistakes and trying to be perfect. When I asked the mother what she did to help her child she responded, “I have found something that helps her. Each time I test her on a word I accentuate each letter and if she starts to write down the wrong letter I simply accentuate that sound again to make sure she always gets the words correct.” When I asked how her daughter scored on the spelling test at school she responded, “Not very well. And she now tells me that she’s stupid and hates school. I don’t understand it because she no longer cries while we do our practice tests.”
Has this ever happened to you? Maybe you helped your child study for a test, assisted with homework, or even solved a friendship issue only to find out later it didn’t go well and your child appeared to be more upset afterward. Why? Moms and dads, we are not allowing our children to learn from their failures or literally walk through failure.
Parents, teachers, neighbors, and friends are increasingly not allowing young people to have experiences that are uncomfortable or lead to failure. Learning from mistakes helps kids to be better equipped to handle the other mistakes or hard times. And as we know the older a person gets the harder the tough times can be.
Walking through failure allows children to flourish by building character and develop problem solving, communication, and self-advocacy skills. This leads to children developing trust and confidence within themselves that can only come from doing things on their own. Each of these skills is vital to success in and outside of school. Whenever possible allow opportunities to develop these skills in your children. Here are some simple things to try.
- When a problem arises first ask your child how he could fix it. Be willing to wait. Give him some time to think about it. We often jump to “fix it mode” but most of the time a child really can do it himself. This applies to school, work, and life.
- When a group of children are playing at your home, encourage them to establish rules before they begin to play. They can even write the rules out on butcher paper or with sidewalk chalk. Then, if a conflict arises, the children can more readily find a fair resolution with everyone on the same page with the rules.
- When your child is scared or stuck, talk him through the issue step by step instead of rushing in to save the day. This will help him to build trust in himself and his abilities.
- If your child fails at something try not to get upset but instead focus on the resolution or the learning that can take place.
Character is influenced by what is done after the mistake. Always be there for your child, especially in extreme failures, helping him to learn from all experiences. The benefits will be life-long.
This is what the Lord says: “You know if a man falls down, he gets up again.
And if a man goes the wrong way, he turns around and comes back.”
Jeremiah 8:4b NLT
How have your children flourished in the face of failure?
By Megan Stone, M.Ed.
Wife to Rick
Mom of two
1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team Member
Founder of Stone Foundations of Learning, Inc.
Author of Own Your Education: A Student’s Guide to Greater Success in School (And Life)
Contact Megan for one-on-one academic coaching or a parent seminar.
Check out Megan’s book,
Own Your Education: A Student’s Guide to Greater Success in (And Life)