I am a firm believer in the fact that there is no such thing as failure, only an opportunity to do better next time. This is something that I have done everything possible to instill in my children since they were in the womb. Even with my best efforts we have still run into times when our children have had a fear of failure. I know this is something that most children experience, and it is our job as parents to help them overcome this fear.
Many times that is easier said than done. Let’s face it, there isn’t a person in the world that sets out to accomplish something and throws a party when things don’t goes as they wanted or planned. For children though, the very thought of not being able to succeed is enough to stop them from trying at all. So how then, as a parent, do you help them break free of their fear and take a risk to see what they can achieve?
Society is not easy on kids today. While they may not have had to grow up without video games and cable like we did, they do have a lot of peer pressure and societal pressure placed on them. If you don’t believe me walk through your child’s school, flip through a few magazines or watch your child’s favorite show with them. The fear of not measuring up can cause your child to simply not try. After all, you can’t fail if you don’t try.
To help make it easier on you and your children here are a couple of tips:
Redefine Failure In our house we live by this motto, "If you learned something from it then you did not fail." As far as I am concerned there hasn’t been a situation yet that you can’t learn from. You can apply this motto to anything from riding a bike, to climbing a tree to auditioning for a part in a school play. Think about it, if your child knows that success is seen as gaining experience and helping them move towards their ultimate goal they will be more encouraged to try new things.
The Only Way to Fail is to Not Try Secondly, your child needs to know that they only way to fail at anything is to not try. They don’t have to be the best; they just have to try their best. There is a big difference there. We have high expectations on our children. We all want our children to succeed, but what is your definition of success? If for you success means being the best and then when your child tries and doesn’t measure up and you come down on them where is their motivation to try again, to be better, or worse to try anything new ever again. Encourage your child to do their best that is all they can do.
I have referenced it time and time again, the Disney movie, "Meet the Robinsons". That movie has a great message for everyone, regardless of age. This is, failing is another opportunity to succeed. Each time you "fail" you learned something, discovered something new. You now have the opportunity to take what you have learned and apply it towards what you want to achieve. There is a seen in that movie, where they are sitting down to dinner and they celebrate the day’s "failures" and what they learned from each situation.
Share with Your Child/Children Another tip is to share with your children times where you have failed, and what you did to overcome that failure or what you learned from that failure. Depending on the age of your child it can be an eye opening time for them. Younger children like to think that their parents are these incredible beings that can leap tall buildings and take on every bad guy in the world. So hearing that you have not always been able to "beat every monster" you have come up against but that you never gave up, you did your best and tried again will help them see that they can try to.
Remember You Were a Child Once
You were once their age, no matter how long ago that was try to think back to how you felt at that age. For as wonderful as childhood is, it also has its far share of stresses and demands. Don’t put adult expectations on them.
Finally, Don’t Live Through Your Child You may not realize that this is a tip to help them overcome fear of failure, but sometimes trying to be mom or dad is exactly what our children do. So, if they don’t believe that they can do something as good as mom or dad would do it, they won’t do it so that they don’t disappoint you. Encourage them to try, you never know, they may do it better then you.