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How to Deal With Failure: Ways To Help Your Child

how to deal with failure

There are times when your little ones may struggle with the concept of failure. Whether it’s an exam, a lost game, or some other type of mental defeat, they need you to have some strategies up your sleeve to help them get through it with their spirits—not to mention their grades—intact. As parents, we want to witness our kids succeed. But what if we recognized failure as a great and vital step on the learning path?

Failure is an essential component of success, not the opposite. The brain grows and develops in various ways whenever failure happens. When children understand this concept, great things can happen for them and their parents.

What Is “Failure” In Terms Of Children?

There is a saying that we must never let our children fail because it will hurt their self-esteem. There’s some truth to this—a child who never experiences failure may not be as well equipped for life as a child who does have to deal with defeat. However, failure can have its benefits if handled correctly. It can teach your children that they are strong and capable of dealing with setbacks—and that many things will not always go the way they want them to. Failure means that your children are active participants in life, not passive observers when it comes down to it.

Ways to Help Your Child Deal With Failure:

Let Children Experience Failure

Children benefit from experiencing failure. Parents know this, and yet it’s tough for parents to accept. Many parents reflect on good parenting by preventing their children from struggling. Children need to experience the reality of failure at some point. This realization allows them to develop the resilience they will need when faced with it in life. Certain coping and problem-solving skills cannot develop if you shield kids from adversity. When you are aware that your children are going through something difficult, it’s okay to let them spend time lamenting their situation. 

In order to face your fears about letting children fail, it would be advisable to ask yourselves the following questions:

  • Are the consequences of the mistake life-threatening or permanent?
  • How would I guide my children right now if I weren’t anxious or afraid?
  • What will my child learn if I step back and allow this situation to happen?

Focus On The Growth Mindset 

mom child talk

The growth mindset emphasizes that we all can improve and that failures and negative feedback are teaching opportunities. This mindset has been proven to be a more effective way of dealing with failure.

Parents and teachers should support this mindset by offering positive reinforcement when children have made mistakes or have failed an assignment. Reinforcing a child’s behavior with kind words can build self-confidence, preventing future failures from occurring. When a child becomes aware of their strengths, they will be more likely to work more diligently towards the goal they want to achieve.

Explain To Children About The “Learning Pit”

Stumbles are a crucial stage in the learning process. ‘The Learning Pit is a simple way to frame this idea for children. When faced with tough situations, all of us must go into ‘the pit’ of uncertainty. Thoughts like “I’m stuck” or “I have failed” are clues that deeper learning happens. 

This pit is where new skills, strategies, and beliefs are formed. Theoretically, if we get stuck in the pit, we continue to sink and drown in it. The key is to stay right on top of it. Parents should try using the learning pit metaphor to help a child learn how to do this: “Sometimes you get stuck in a learning pit. You take a step back and figure out what went wrong or what you can learn from the situation.”

Embrace and Celebrate Failure

Successful people feel like failures much more often than you might think. They can also handle failure with grace and optimism because they know they must fail before succeeding. Once parents realize this, they can help their children embrace failure. 

Other ways to celebrate mistakes include:

  • Frequently praising children when they try hard and fail.
  • Avoid comments such as “Try harder – you are smart!” 
  • Accepting that we all make mistakes, even grownups.
  • Explaining the acronym for (FAIL) First Attempt In Learning
  • Affirming our responsibility for failure and the power we have to overcome it.

Teach Children Mindful Approach

teach children mindful approach

For the willful child who does not learn from failure, you can use some techniques to help them. One of the best techniques is the RAIN technique, a simple way for children to notice and accept their feelings. The following are the four steps:

R: Recognize what is happening: What exactly do you notice in your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors? When do you feel it the most?

For instance: “I’m so angry at myself for failing my quiz. I want to cry.”

A: Allow life to be just as it is: Acknowledge the feeling and let the feeling come and go.

For instance: “I am angry, and I feel like crying. It feels uncomfortable, but I can let myself feel this way.”

I: Investigate with kindness: You may try to ask yourself, “Why do I feel this way?” or “Is it really true?”

For instance: “I also notice I’m a little disappointed in myself too, not only mad. I am wondering why? It’s maybe because I think I could have done more.”

N: Non-Identification: Non-identification is about not taking yourself so seriously. It’s about feeling whatever you feel but not assuming we are the only ones who should feel that way. It’s about being mindful.

For instance: “I can have disappointed feelings without being those feelings. I am bigger than how I am feeling at this moment.”

Final Thoughts

Failure is the time when children learn about themselves and others. It’s okay to let your children experience failure because it can be a valuable lesson for them. Failure is an opportunity to practice resilience and perseverance. Children learn new skills when they are faced with failure and let them grow into stronger individuals. Helping your child how to deal with failure is a tricky task., but we need to understand that they will grow up soon enough, so we should let them do the things that make them feel stronger as human beings.

Here at NY Baby Steps, we try to teach our children the importance of taking risks and facing failure. We also try to help them grow into stronger individuals through life lessons. Helping parents like you at home is also one of our priorities. By providing you with articles like this, we hope to help you understand the importance of letting your children take risks, learn new skills, and face failure. For more information about how we help our children grow into strong individuals, please contact us at +1 (718) 440-9919 for Rego Park and 347-960-8334 for Forest Hills. We are here for you and look forward to hearing from you.