As a parent, you feel like it's your life mission to love, protect and safeguard your child. While it's imperative to do these things, you also need to make sure that your child is well-equipped to deal with the harsh realities of the world they’re living in. Learning to deal with failure is an important skill they need to master. Failure is a part of life and it will present itself many times in their lives. From scoring less marks on a test, to not performing well in sports and failing to grasp concepts in their studies, failure is an ever-present facet of life.
Even though it feels extremely disappointing to fail, there are always lessons to learn and sometimes it's even possible to come out of the experience as a winner. Children need to learn the art of navigating their emotions when they fail.
If a child doesn’t learn how to deal with failure it can make them prone to experiencing feelings of anxiety or breakdowns whenever they do fail. It might even cause them to feel extremely unmotivated that they might give up completely and avoid trying out new things in life. Here’s how to broach this tricky topic with your child:
Failures can be a humbling experience for your child:
You can start by talking to your child about the positive aspects of failing. Do not stigmatise failure. You can do this by teaching them not to fear failure or be ashamed of it. Teach them that it’s an opportunity to learn and grow from their mistakes. Create a safe space for your child to come to you and approach you with their failures. You can also talk to them about your failures, and tell them how you got through them and the lessons you learned from your experience.
Teaches them to empathise:
When a child fails they feel embarrassed, sad, and disappointed in themselves. It can be very difficult for them to approach their parents because they feel like they’ve let their parents down too. During these times, you must empathise with their feelings of sadness. Let them know that you’re there for them and that you understand their emotions. Put yourself in their shoes and empathise with them. You can say things like “I know you’ve worked hard for this and you must feel upset to lose. You must feel disappointed and I know that it hurts a lot.” Never express your disappointment in them or shame them for their failures. When they score less marks on a test or fail to win a sports game, you have to remember that this is about them. Children don’t study hard or play sports for their parents, they do it to build themselves up. So don’t make their failures about you.
Teaches them problem-solving skills:
Dealing with failure is not easy. When your child fails, it can be a bit frustrating and you might feel like you must tell them what to do and what they should’ve done instead. This approach is not healthy and your child will think that they can’t do anything on their own without your help. They might also feel worse, for not doing things the way you wanted them to. Instead, you can guide them in the correct direction by prompting them with a few open-ended questions like “If you had to go through this situation again, what would you do differently?” This will help them see the situation from a different perspective and find solutions.
Teaches them to develop a persevering spirit:
Teaching your child to keep going and keep striving in the face of failure is an important life skill they need to develop. Teach them that failing is nothing more than a mere setback and it isn’t the end. Encourage them to keep trying and motivate them to persevere. It’s also important to teach them the stark difference between giving up and knowing when to move on.
Teaches them how to be independent:
Your child might realise that the reason they failed at something is from a simple lack of interest in it. This could be anything - from a sudden disinterest in a musical instrument, to dance classes or even sports games. It's normal for children to outgrow things, and it might give them a sense of control over their failure and help them get to know themselves better. Let them take responsibility for their failures and give them the leeway to make their own decisions and accept the consequences of their actions. In time, they will develop self-awareness, resilience and an independent nature.
Failure will always be a part of life and there are so many great life lessons your child can learn from it. As a parent, you can teach your child how to deal with failure, accept it and learn lessons from it. Failure can teach your child to be independent, and empathetic and develop problem-solving life skills. Remember - failure is just one stepping stone to success