Failure is good

Since when did letting your child fail become a direct reflection of your ability to parent well?

Failure is good.  Not in the Gordon Gekko kind of way but it is a lesson not to be taken lightly.  As a highly organized mum of four who stays on top of her children's academic and extra-curricular activities, I sometimes have to remind myself that there are benefits to failure.  I would even go so far as to say that at times I welcome failure. 

A recent example of this was a football camp my son attended this summer. A friend of mine down the road who had her 7 year old son in the same camp sent me a text saying that she was furious at the way in which the camp handed out medals and certificates to the children.   Apparently, not all children were awarded a medal or a certificate.  She wrote to the Head Office who replied by sending everyone who had participated in the camp a letter along with an explanation that they were 'reviewing' their policy and would 'revisit' their awards ceremony next summer. 

This response concerned me as I for one did not want my son to receive a medal OR a certificate that he did not earn on the back of his own merit, commitment or improvement.  What kind of a message are we sending our children when we are so concerned with wrapping them up in cotton wool that we are deluding them from how to truly succeed in life? Through failure.

Consciously allowing, acknowledging and accepting your children's failures is GOOD parenting.  Children need to know that failure is GOOD and that we all fail at one time or another.  Failure is the vehicle to improvement and with improvement - anything is possible.  

Let's face it, the time we spend with our children - in the greater scheme of things - is short.  The overwhelming need to protect our children from failure is natural but it is not always healthy.  No one 'out there' is going to give our children a free ride. Not in school, not in work and not in life.

Stopping, intervening or avoiding failure is a missed opportunity to teach a far more valuable lesson.  In order to succeed, we sometimes need to fail.  So the next time your child complains that he didn't come in first in a competition or that it wasn't fair someone else won the award or they got 4/10 on their spelling test, consider it a great opportunity to teach children the valuable lesson of accountability. 

The great American industrialist Henry Ford put it best when he said, “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” 

Let’s not forget it.


Peggy Nastat


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