Failure has become almost like a bad word amongst the world, and we tend to look down on the people who do fail. So many don’t even try things for fear that they won’t match up to the task.
For a long time, I associated failure with a lifetime of disappointment, lack of money, and overall unhappiness. I thought that by trying something not relevant to anything I had ever done before would mean sure failure. But, after watching a documentary about Walt Disney on Netflix, I am amazed that so much greatness came from a man who wouldn’t give up.
One of the lesser-known movies from Disney is “Meet the Robinsons.” I love that movie because the little boy is met with so many obstacles but he is able to dream and invent. He messes up so many times but with a little encouragement and some people that believe in him even through those failures, he creates a life for his future. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend it, especially for this topic.
Before starting this blog, I worked on a craft and recipe blog. I had originally started it to keep up my writing skills, hoping to connect with people on topics that were important. But as I saw others have success in that niche, I found myself working on more and more posts in that area.
In other words, I didn’t have faith that I would be successful at something different!
Because it wasn’t something that I was absolutely passionate about, although I enjoy sewing, crafting and cooking, I burned out fast. When I think back to it, I wish I would have had someone to tell me to stick to my original goals. I wish I had someone to explain that while those are worthy pursuits and it will reach a lot of people, that by helping even one person with my scattered thoughts would be worth it.
I guess no matter how old we are, we can worry about the fear of failure. The thing is, we need to cultivate a determination to get back up and try again in our kids. We need to show our kids we are willing to take chances and that even when we fail, it’s not the end of the world. Then we can let our kids make the mistakes and then face the consequences, learning in the process and making improvements from there.
“Ann Klotz, head of the Emma Willard School for Girls, suggests parents ask themselves this question before intervening: Are the consequences of the mistake life threatening or permanent? If not, hang back.” Huffington Post
Small risks now allow for bigger risks later
Some of our greatest potential is reached when we take those big leaps into the unknown. But think about the opportunities our kids can survive and thrive in when they have learned what failure is and how to use that to their advantage.
Everyone has dreams but it seems like through the years, those dreams are dampened by the everyday reality around us. If a child is taught to find 10 ways to reach his/her dream goal, because 9 failed, that knowledge goes a long way to help in future ventures or to know exactly how to fix things if it gets off track.
Greater self-accomplishment knowing they did it
Think about the last thing you completed all by yourself. Maybe you built some way to organize your house or finished writing a book you’ve wanted to finish. When you complete something on your own and you know it’s well-done, you can’t help but feel excited.
That excitement usually comes because of the struggles that went along with the process. Maybe you had to work for days to separate the items to keep and the items to trash or donate before you could actually organize anything. Writing that book took two years of revisions and edits to finally get it to the point you want it (obviously an editor and other sets of eyes help here, but you wrote it!)
Now think about how much your child needs that feeling. It’s not your science project so don’t take over. If your kid wants to see if plants will grow on varying amounts of vinegar, let them go for it (it took a good 6 months for my mom’s car to smell normal).
If your child wants to decorate the Christmas sugar cookie with bright blue frosting, swallow that anxiety and give him the tools to do it. Even if you have to close your eyes during the sprinkle-pouring stage so you won’t say anything, then standing nap time it is.
As hard as it is to keep quiet, chances are that your child will love what he/she did without suggestions.
Push to keep going before quit
The jitters of a first try. Sometimes you try something new and totally nail it! You think, “How did I survive without doing _____ activity before? I feel awesome!”
Most likely, you’ll try something and fumble along, willing the clock to move faster so you can be done. You might be tempted to never return to said activity because why make yourself uncomfortable? This is when you have to push yourself to try it out a few more times to be certain it’s not something you want to do.
The same goes with the kiddos. They may have been so excited to start that dance class or go to a practice for a sport but once there, they realize that, “So-and-so is better than me. I don’t want to do this again.” They worry about being seen as a failure because they don’t have the same skills.
If they don’t stick to it, they might lose out on a talent or hobby that lasts the rest of their life. Help them work on the activity in between practices and see the progress they make. If, after the season, your child isn’t interested in it, then move onto the next thing.
Learn to speak for and defend themselves
In the book, “The Gift of Failure“, the author talks about how her son left his homework assignment on the kitchen table. She was tempted to run it over to him but decided against it. She felt anxious all day long for what would happen to him.
When he finally came home from school, he said it was okay because he’d talked to the teacher about it! How awesome is that? Instead of taking away the opportunity to explain himself to an adult, she let him learn that he can take care of the situation.
Things as simple as letting your child order at a restaurant will give your child the confidence to communicate, no matter who it is.
Helps Them Face Consequences
Every decision comes with a consequence, be it good or bad. We try to do everything we can to avoid the bad consequences, the ones that will cause us discomfort. But no matter what we do, we can never avoid all of them. Sometimes we get where we need to go a lot faster by acting and accepting whatever comes after than by trying to side-step it.
Teaching a child to accept these consequences can make life so much easier. To own up to a mistake is much more telling of a person’s character, and if he/she can figure that out early on, they will gain the respect of others.
Child’s success does not define you as the parent
This one is for you, parents. You are there to lead and teach your child right and wrong. That means you discipline and give them an example. But the common assumption we jump to is that when our child fails, we have failed.
So your kid misses a pop-fly or plays a few wrong notes at a recital. All you can do is encourage them, and help them improve through practice. But we shouldn’t take out our frustration on the kids when they mess up because everyone is human. They need to know that you will love them, especially when they fail.
Give your kids that opportunity to fail. Even when you can see the outcome of what will happen, do the best you can to let them know you are there. Go over what they learned from it.
And from “Meet the Robinsons“, Keep Moving Forward despite the failures.
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