Teaching Kids to Handle Failure
There are bound to be setbacks in lives. It is inevitable. However, it is hard for us to imagine our kids facing failure. We need to remember that it is impossible for everyone to be the best at everything. Once we accept that our kids failing is okay, as long as they get up, learn and move on, we will be able to teach our kids to deal with failure positively.
Our kids are of a generation that can’t handle losing. At party games, school, and even at friendly neighbourhood contests, we see kids bursting into tears because they “did not come first.”
It is imperative that we prepare our kids to face failure. Here’s how we can do that:
- Start appreciating their efforts and not just the outcome:
Kids need to know that working hard, understanding things, and giving their best is as important as the outcome of their actions. Understanding the concepts is more important that getting great marks and not knowing the concepts. Participating in sports and activities and giving their best is more important than winning.
When my 5 year-old tells me that he finished reading 30 pages of a book so isn’t he awesome, I ask if he enjoyed reading. If he did, that’s good. He may persist and insist, but I stand my ground. Be consistent and they will eventually learn.
- Games teach so much: Encourage your kids to play games. Both indoor and outdoor games. Become a board game playing family. Let them lose. Let them learn team efforts. Don’t let them get away with cheating or don’t mock lose for them. In fact, teach them, through practice, that enjoying the game is more important than winning or losing. What they also need to learn is look at what they learnt from their failures and ensure that they do not repeat the mistake, again.
- Manage your own expectations and reactions: As parents, we tend to push our kids. We are constantly telling them to “Read better, speak well, eat right, get good grades, aces sports….” and so on. We need to chill out and back off. Even if we do not spell out our expectations, our kids sense our emotions.
Once we be okay with their failure and accept that it’s about learning life lessons from failures, our kids would not face undue pressure.
By all means, do point out mistakes. Highlight incidents when you have goofed up, preferably by giving examples they are aware of, like when the milk boiled over, or when you accidently spilt the food from a pot. Talk about instances where you had to deal with disappointment, but you did not give up hope. You brushed off the failure, learnt your lesson and moved on.
- Competing with self over others: Competing with the world is narrow and limited. Teach your kids to be a better version of themselves, day after day. That will leave no room for unnecessary and negative disappointment. They always have to only outdo themselves. Teach them this most important life lesson by citing real-life examples.
- Make failure fun: Yes you read that right. Celebrate failures at home, even more than you would celebrate success. Make it a habit to ensure that “learning from failures and getting better” becomes a natural norm for your kids.
- Talk to them about famous personalities who have failed. While we do not want to romanticize or glorify failure, do tell them stories of famous people who got rejected (J.K Rowling!), expelled from school (Einstein), and what not, while they continued to work hard and do what they had to until they found success.
Do you have your own tips of dealing with failure? Do share them with us. Like what we share? Do check out our online parenting program covering a host of topics like handling failure, understanding how to succeed and so on.