5 ways to teach kids how to learn from failures

Teach your children to cope with small failures rather than ignore them

By Delnaz Delina

We usually look at people’s success and believe they are fortunate. We focus on the end result and seldom find a chance to hear what may not have worked for them in the process of taking small steps to attain success. This often leads us to consider that every effort leads to big successes. Yet, we all know that this path is paved in failure and hardships.

Failure is typically associated with a person’s incompetence to accomplish their goals or lack of confidence in oneself to strive harder. Accepting failure can be nerve wrecking, be it among others or privately as it causes an unpleasant feeling and puts us in poor light. Further, we often start developing negative emotions such as disappointment and frustration, which ultimately leads to more difficulty in finding courage to start all over again.

As parents, when our children are going through hardships, it stirs panic and anxiety in us. We may find it difficult to cope with the issues ourselves, let alone allow them to go through the discomfort. With an effort to safeguard their interests, and in turn ourselves, we end up taking away the valuable opportunity of teaching them to learn from their mistakes by stepping out of their comfort zone. As parents, we must imbibe in our children that it is ‘okay’ to be vulnerable, and most importantly, talk openly about the inner feelings.

Some of the renowned personalities from history have openly shared their experiences about the lessons that failure and hardships have taught them. They had ideas they put into motion, which got rejected and they failed not once but many times. But each time they failed, they chose to rise again by redirecting their energy differently with a focus on achieving their goals. These individuals had a positive mindset that was aimed at growth, which allowed them to believe that they haven’t achieved their purpose ‘just yet’, but they will achieve it sooner or later.

Walt Disney had said: “We don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

Maya Angelou had said: “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”

So how can we as adults and caregivers teach our children it is okay to fail or face challenging situations before ultimately attaining the desired success?

* Teach your children to cope with small failures rather than ignore them. This attitude helps build resilience and allows them to convert letdowns into achievements.

* Desist from guarding your kids from experiencing low-risk natural consequences. For instance, if your child does not submit homework on time, don’t take their stand or defend them, rather let them deal with the consequences. Allowing children to practise such outcomes imparts in them the control of their decisions and actions.

* Help your children to see failures as a chance to grow and learn. Talk to them about their mistakes and help them discover ways to do it differently, so that they develop a growth mindset.

* Jog their memory by telling them that it is okay to sense unpleasant and negative emotions that come with failure, and the only thing that they need to do is bounce back and face challenges so that they do not give up easily at the time of hardships.

* As parents, it is also important to acknowledge and praise your kid’s efforts in completing a certain task. This will lead to empowering them and boosting their confidence in the right way. For instance, tell your child things like, ‘I am proud of the efforts you put in to give it your best’. It is important to avoid the need to give inflated false praises when children haven’t done anything. This can lead to unnecessary overconfidence

Thus as parents, we must ensure our children understand failure is only the ‘first attempt in learning’, and provide them with tools to reflect, review and rise again. We must share our own stories with them and tell them it is okay to fail and experience disappointing moments, but strive harder to achieve their goals. This will help them to rejoice in every small success, believe in themselves and build their overall self-confidence.

(The writer is a counseling psychologist at the Aditya Birla World Academy)

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