Growing up, failure was simply not an option. Success meant being perfect. Be the good girl. Get it right. If not, what would people think? I wondered, what WOULD people think? Whatever it was, it was scary, so I didn’t want to take a risk. In school, good grades and good behavior were more important than learning from mistakes. The thought of failing was like a big dark hole to avoid at old costs. Why explore if I might fail? As a parent, I finally learned that there’s another side to failure: learning is a process. Through failure, we learn to be confident, resilient and more compassionate with ourselves and others.
I swore that I’d teach my kids differently, to encourage them to take a chance and jump. I never asked them “where were you when they taught the last 5 points” if they came home with a 95. Kids hear these comments and internalize them. When we recognize our kids for the hard work that they do, and focus on their success, they will have more confidence to take the risks, to learn more deeply, and be more courageous in their lives.
Give your kids the support to be daring, and remember that failure is not a bad thing. Let them try, however imperfectly, and they will develop skills, self-control, focus and commitment. Help them see the other side of the coin, and find the opportunity to grow and learn from the experience, and watch their confidence grow is much more interesting.