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  • Writer's pictureP.E.T. South Africa

4 Reasons why you should let your child fail

As parents, we are often eager to place ourselves between our children and failure. We want to protect our children from the thorns that can cause displeasure, heartache, and bitterness. But the irony is that your shield could be causing damage by making your child vulnerable and unable to manage future failures.

Therefore, it is important to embrace life's hurdles in a healthy manner that will help your child grow on a conscious and unconscious level. Here are four important ways to effectively deal with failure.

Teach your child to feel and deal with negative emotions

We all know how failure feels. No matter how small the incident of failure, negative emotions like disappointment, frustration, anxiety, and in some cases despair are part of the package.

Protecting your child from these negative emotions will only lead to more anxiety in their future. Children need to be able to acknowledge these feelings, effectively communicate what they are feeling, and then deal with the problem at hand.

By sweeping failure under the rug, you will rob your child from valuable life skills which will prove beneficial to them in adulthood.

Action has consequences

There are positive and negative consequences to every action we take. A child needs to learn that his/her actions will have an impact on the desired outcome. For example, when you don't study for a test, you will fail.

This will not only teach your child personal responsibility and self-discipline but also promote creativity and ambition.

Once a child realises that taking action is within his/her control, there's very little that can stand in their way.

Steer clear of golden stars

How can praise be harmful to a child? This is by far one of the most complicated things for parents and teachers to understand. But allow us to try to explain.

The things we often praise our children for are in many cases outside of their control; "you're so smart", "you're so special", "you're the best". By continually praising your child on 'who they are' can lead to a child acting in a way to always appease the parent. This could lead to a child acting out of compliance to make the parent happy instead of acting in a genuine way free of evaluation. It could lead to feelings of anxiety, self-doubt, and lower self-esteem in adolescence when a child is no longer in an environment governed by praise.

Try and shift the focus to the child's behaviour. What did the child do? And praise them for the effort that they put in; "you worked really hard", "you put a lot of effort and time into your drawing", "how do you feel about your test mark?".

A child can control the amount of effort they put into any project, and by acknowledging that behaviour, you can help your child develop their self-worth and build their self-esteem free of judgment.

Children need to make mistakes

Making mistakes is a fundamental part of your child's development. Without ever making mistakes, your child will never learn. Once again a mistake can lead to negative emotions like embarrassment, guilt, and doubt but it is still crucial for your child to be able to deal with these emotions effectively. Mistakes will teach your child to think creatively, process, and ponder before taking action in the future, which becomes a valuable skill to have later on in life.

The most important thing a parent can establish in a child's journey through life is a safe space for them to fall back on should they stumble.

Allowing your child to fail doesn't mean your child needs you less, in fact, it's quite the opposite. A child raised in an environment of unconditional acceptance is much more likely to trust, and seek advice from a parent, than a child who feels their failures will only be ridiculed.

"Stepping aside and realizing that no real harm is being done to them or you is the first step in understanding that you don’t really have to say no to everything that they attempt to do." - Georgina Watson

A final thought; we are often reminded by people who have accomplished remarkable things in life, of the many failures they had along the way. Despite the shortcomings, and maybe even because of them, these people still accomplished amazing things. So, perhaps it's time for us to listen?

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Disclaimer: The information contained in this communication is not to be construed as medical advice. Consult a professional on any medical or psychological concerns. The articles and blogs are posted only as opinion or ideas, and are general in nature. The administrator takes no responsibility for any action or outcome a reader may make as a result of reading a post.

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