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Why is helping kids learn to fail so important?

As a parent, it is only natural to shield your children from failure. Right from the moment, they are born, we hold them so close in our arms, we love them without seeing faults in them, we show them support and teach them a lot of things which includes learning to sit, crawl and walk. Everything we do is to make our children happy, most of the times, we ensure to support, teach, and provide for our children and help them see the positive and bright side of life only. 

Most parents tend to see their major responsibility towards their children as helping them succeed.  Parents fail to educate and prepare their children for failure. So what happens when the child fails later on in the future? The child will totally feel defeated and will be confused about the next step to take. This is why it is very important to teach your children about learning to fail and the ability to try again more intelligently after failing.


Failure is the absence or lack of success. In life, failure is inevitable. So when a person fails, the person should learn all there is from that failure. 

Children learn how to solve a problem by failing. When a child experiences failure, parents should evaluate what went wrong with them and the steps they took wrongly. After this, the child should be taught how he or she can prevent the mistakes from happening again. 

Through trying and failing and not giving up but trying again then succeeding, our children learn patience, perseverance, and they become proud of themselves and their achievement.

According to Henry Ford, failure is the only chance to begin again. This time, more intelligently.

Parents who allow their kids to fail are building social and emotional skills for them that will last for a lifetime. Kim Metcalfe, a retired professor of early childhood education and psychology

Seeing failure as an opportunity to try again and plan for better outcomes can ease the pain of defeat and help them to do better next time. 

Though it may seem unnecessary to some, parents need to provide opportunities for learning that come from making mistakes. This way, the children learn from their mistakes and builds resilience. This is very vital in raising a confident, capable, happy, and successful adult.

Not learning how to deal with failure leaves your children vulnerable to worry. This leads to meltdowns when the inevitable failure finally occurs and this can lead to kids giving up easily and not getting to try new things. Too bad!

 Michael Jordan who is one of the world’s greatest athletes is very keen on the importance of losing. He explains extensively how resilience and perseverance during challenges on and off-court have made him what he is today.

Unfortunately, as there’s increased pressure on kids to be winners in all aspects of life, parents feel compelled to enable them to become winners in every possible way. This is the reason why we see more and more kids who have become distraught over even the smallest mistake.

When children are given the chance to struggle and sometimes fail, they develop important social and emotional skills. Of course, their safety should not be risked and as parents, you are to respond when necessary, and when reassurance is needed. The role of a parent should be to support and guide, rather than do for them what they are to learn to do for themselves. It is during these times when things aren’t working out as they ought to that children develop coping and resilience skills. 

Let’s consider the learning that occurs when a child and a friend argue for an example. Though it might be unpleasant, children learn to reflect on their actions, manage their emotions, take a look at another person’s perspective, solve problems, and compromise if necessary. If parents are quick to swoop in to fix those problems, children won’t have that critical skill-building ability that results from learning from their own mistakes or failure. 

Furthermore, children who are not allowed to fail or struggle and recover from their failure tend to have lower self-confidence and a less-developed self-concept. They become scared of failing and therefore are less willing to try new things just because they don’t know how they will handle it.

Dr. Amanda Mintzer, a clinical psychologist said that “when it comes to school, the ability to accept that something is not going as planned is more important to learn than whatever the content subject is.” She also said, “Building these skills is necessary for kids to be able to become more independent and to succeed in their future endeavors, whether it’s personal or academic goals, or just learning how to effectively deal with other people.”


  1. When something goes wrong: If for instance, your child gets into a fight with a friend or does something inappropriate, like when he or she lies. Instead of telling the child how to fix it or fixing it yourself, ask how they think it should be fixed. Questions that can be asked are “How does your friend feel? Why do you think he feels that? What can you do to change how he feels? Why is lying a problem? What might happen because of the lie? How can you solve the problem?”Helping children reflect on the problem is time-consuming but it provides rich opportunities for learning and skill-building. While children learn from their mistakes, they also develop self-confidence and moral judgment that comes from doing the right things like apologizing to a friend and working to right a wrong.
  2. When your child asks for an answer: It is so common for parents to want to share all of their hard-earned wisdom and prove how smart you are to your kids, but in most cases, it’s best to just support your children as they learn on their own. Whenever your child asks a question, rather than provide the answer immediately, ask them what they think or what they have tried. This way, you’ll know where you’re starting from and how to support them as they discover the answer. If they guess the wrong answers, support and encourage them as they experiment, make their mistakes, and discover why they weren’t right. You may not have time for this process all the time, but it proves invaluable when you do.
  3. When your child asks for help: a child should be given time for trial and error. From tying shoelaces to doing their homework. Rather than help them out, respond with, “Let me see you try first, and then I will help with the rest.” Or, better still do it together. 
  4. When your child doesn’t do well as expected: it could be a low grade, your child could lose in a game, it could be disappointments or even failures. The child’s personal growth and achievement should be the focus of the conversation rather than the mistake or failure itself. Consider encouragement rather than giving praise as a way to focus the child towards positive outcomes.

In the wise words of Ann Landers, it is not what you do for your children, but it is what you teach them to do on their own that will make them successful human beings.

Providing opportunities for a child to develop skills of resilience and coping within a loving, and supportive environment are the best way to prepare the child for life’s challenges.


Children see how their parents deal with failure, and this tends to influence their own response to failure too. 

If as a parent, you get extremely angry when passed over for a promotion that you really wanted, your child may model that behavior when faced with their own failures. On the other hand, if you make the best out of your failure and use it as an opportunity to grow and improve on yourself, your child will learn a better lesson.

Parents can use these strategies to help their children turn failures into lessons and motivation for future success.

  1. Talk About Their Feelings: assist your child in identifying the emotions they feel and help them acceptably express them. When your child fails, whether in school or a game, parents should be available to help them work through the emotions.
  1. Talk About What Happened: the child should be allowed to talk about why they think things didn’t go the way they expected them to go. Every child can express their feelings, and one of the best things a parent can do is listen. Your child will even provide some insight into what happened that you didn’t notice.
  1. Model Handling Failure Gracefully: as discussed earlier, parents should always note that their child watches how they respond to failures in their own life. It’s okay to share your experiences, and it’s important to show your kids how you learn from these experiences.
  1. Lay Off the Pressure: Too often, parents expect too much of a child at a young age. They pressurize the child. Parents should provide age-appropriate activities that match their child’s interests and skills. Parents should be patient with their children and lay off the pressure to master skills early.
  1. See Them as Their Own Person: Parents should keep their expectations for their child realistic and flexible. Don’t compare them with other kids, especially their relatives and friends. 
  1. Focus on Doing Rather Than Achieving: Let your child know that winning isn’t the most important thing. Give praise for all their efforts.
  1. Nurture Your Child’s Superpowers: ensure you talk to your child about his or her strengths. Your child’s strengths are the things that you observe as their positive traits. You should also notice the things that make them unique and different from every other person. Let them know that there are many positive characters.
  1. Think About Next Time: failure is inevitable, we should not forget that. Always talk to your child about accepting failure and also teach them the value of finding the good in every situation. Let them reflect on their “failure” experience and ask them what they learned, and what they would do differently.

Although failure is a natural part of living, it can produce painful feelings such as anger in a child or an adult. How your child handles these emotions may be based on their age and maturity. However, they can be taught to recognize and deal with those feelings positively, that is to channel them toward future success.


Love without strings. Let your child know that they are important whether they win or lose. A big hug and a word of encouragement can ease the pain they feel when they fail a test or fall while learning how to ride their bike. The key is to get back up and try again this time even better. 

Children can be know how to view failure as an opportunity if we show them how to learn from their mistakes and explain to them how not to be afraid to try, and fail and try again. Reason about different methods together for a better outcome next time. As in any parenting situation, try to avoid saying anything discouraging, mean, or overly critical. Don’t compare your child or put your child down, but do relate to them. 

Failure should be normalized so that children can know that they are not the first to fail and are not the first who doesn’t get things on the first try.

Dr. Mintzer writes “It’s invalidating to brush off a child’s feelings of frustration and disappointment  Instead, you can validate and acknowledge their emotions by saying things like, “I’m sorry you’re annoyed,”  and also remind them that there’s still a lot of opportunities to succeed. 

Failure doesn’t just test our kids’ emotional capability, our response tests a parent’s maturity.

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