Acceptance of Failure Creates Resilience and Perseverance
by Kerry Orchard
We live in world now, where we tend to protect children from all forms of loss or failure. We are in essence, discouraging perseverance and robbing them of the opportunity to learn from and grow through failure. Failure is not a bad word. It is healthy part of living. Failure teaches that we can move past our losses and be successful. It teaches us incredible lessons in where we went wrong and how we will change with our next attempt. Without these lessons, we do not grow in the same way. There will always be failures - always be losses. We must teach our children to move through them with grace, integrity and growth.
"You never fail until you stop trying." Albert Einstein
When we protect children from everything that can possibly go wrong or happen in their lives that may be negative, we take away their opportunity to develop confidence and their skills to problem solve, to develop perseverance and to learn new ways of making things work that are right for them. We do not enable them to advocate in support for their next attempt. We shield them from all forms of negativity without realizing the impact this will have on their ability to manage even the smallest of setbacks. This can create everything from anxiety to entitlement. It removes the skills required for navigating life and future adulting.
We do not do this out of anything but love. We think we are being protective parents but in reality, we are teaching children that they will never and should never have or expect failure or loss. These feelings grow into ones of entitlement and/or anxiety, as they age enter high school and university and come face to face with the real world.
Part of this, healing this, is the need to hold children accountable for their actions, to offer them opportunities to be responsible and independent. To help them make choices that affect their education and future but not to make all of them for them. If they did not study for a test - they will fail. It is a lesson in life. If they are teenagers living at home and they have not done their laundry - they will not have clean clothes for school. They can and should learn to take the bus to school, to do chores, to accept when their team loses or they fail a test. To be open to change and learning new things. These are adulting skills and they will need them.
Love should teach children, independence, perseverance, responsibility, healthy relationship, kindness and tolerance. Do not remove these opportunities by shielding them from everything and by having no expectations. We are preparing them for adulthood and all the aches and pains that come with it. They will need these skills or the world will feel very difficult for them and it will make leaving home and holding down a job feel overwhelming.
So, how do we support them through these difficult moments. Listen, reassure, support with love. Help them brainstorm a plan for next time. Help them understand it is not the end of the world and that it is an opportunity to grow and learn. Model your own skills for building on failure and moving through loss. Talk about the lesson that may be involved. Do not diminish anything they feel or become angry about the fact that they are experiencing a very normal human experience.
Life tends to throw curve balls more often than not, and we must prepare our children to manage through even the most difficult, darkest days with integrity, courage and acceptance. We know that heart break, loss, failure will come in many forms throughout life and if we build resilience from the time they are small, they will become strong, independent and successful adults.