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Failures And Setbacks Are Good For Children

Updated on September 20, 2015

A number of teachers as well as parents have started having an uneasy feeling about the way they parent their children. This is because they are over-protecting their children with an aim to ensure that their children do not fail. Parents must realize that by avoiding failures in the lives of their children, they are undermining their competence, potential and independence.

In her book "The Gift of Failure", Jessica Lahey clearly explains how today's children constantly live in a state of trepidation and fear. This may spell doom to their learning process because they are afraid of taking intellectual risks. Many children are afraid of even raising their hands in the classroom. Even if they have a few ideas, they hesitate to express them.

In short, parents as well as teachers are teaching kids to fear and detest failure. But by doing so, they block the sure ways of achieving success in life. It is true that parents love their children and that is one of the main reasons they want to protect them. But in this process, they are bulldozing and removing all the bumps their children may encounter along their path. This approach deprives children of the chance to learn the greatest lesson that failures, mistakes, errors and setbacks are nothing but experiences that are capable of teaching them persistence, resourcefulness, innovation and resilience.

Children should be allowed to explore new things. They should be allowed to attempt new things. They must be pushed to come out of the comfort zones parents have created for them.
But unfortunately, children are forced to take part in 'races.' Parents want them to be on top in everything because according to them, only those who lead in the races can lead a successful life. That is the reason these races are becoming cut-throat. Due to this, children face a lot of pressure. They are not able to enjoy their play time also, not to talk of wandering and exploring the woods.

Parents do not give children opportunities to solve their problems also. So, when these children become adults and face problems of life, they struggle. Parents think that if their children study well or shine in other fields, they have been good parents.

In other words, parents fail to launch their children and this phenomenon is known as "enmeshment" in psychiatric parlance. By adopting this approach, parents are fostering a generation that may not be ready to take risks in life. So, children belonging to this generation will not be able to cope with real-life situations.

Simply put, it is fear that dictates modern parenting. Further, modern parenting involves "parenting for today" and not for tomorrow. So, over-parented children can not manage when they encounter responsibilities or risks. The only way to make children independent is to give them autonomy so they can develop competence in whatever they do including making wise decisions.

Advice to parents

Make children do their tasks on their own. Even if they fail, keep encouraging them. Motivate them by telling them that they are capable of doing the tasks.

Make them acquire the skills, virtues, values and competence that can build a positive sense in them. Children should imbibe the quality of resilience because they should adapt to situations that may arise due to their mistakes, setbacks or failures.

If you have been doing wrong parenting, begin making amends. Heap praises on your children even if they achieve very small successes. Keep repeating to them that they are capable. Empathize with them. Encourage them to persevere till they complete the tasks on hand successfully.

Of course, making amends and succeeding in these efforts may neither be easy nor simple. But if you give autonomy to your children, persevere and be patient, you will be raising resourceful adults. Children should be aware that you are there to support them in every step. Tell them that they need not be ashamed of failing by emphasizing to them that not attempting due to fear of failure is more harmful than failing.


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    • dreamdamodar profile imageAUTHOR

      Raman Kuppuswamy 

      3 years ago from Chennai, India

      I appreciate your sincerity. But not all the teachers are as sincere as you are. This is an unfortunate fact. At the same time, parents who push their children to excel in everything have to bear the blame also.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      3 years ago from sunny Florida

      some teachers may be guilty of causing a child to fear failure but the majority encourage 'giving it a shot.' I taught for 42 years and my children were told that the classroom was a safe zone...they could make mistakes, could risk having the wrong answer, because that is how we learn.

      Some parents too do push kids too excel and not fail at any endeavor....

      Of course that is not healthy and the kids are the ones who pay the price in the long run.

      Angels are on the way to you this evening ps


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