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Is Your Child Failing Enough?

Do one thing every day that scares you.

- Eleanor Roosevelt

We know we can change your child simply by changing your perspective as a parent.

Here is a powerful one for you: Is your child failing, struggling and experiencing hardship often enough?

If you can have too much failure in a child’s life this is not good. We see this sometimes for a few kids here who fail and struggle at everything. But what I want to write about today is actually much more common. Often children do not experience enough failure especially at younger ages.

A child is like a tree. The tree needs both sunshine (successes/positives) and rain (failure/negatives) to thrive. The right proportions of both and the tree will be tall, strong and flourish. But what happens when it gets too much sunshine and little water? What happens when it gets tons of rain and no sunshine? An over protected tree is weak. The slightest wind (or fears) blows it down. The smallest pests (or bullies) destroy it. So your child is really the same.

Why is failure good? It is the only way your child can develop the skills, attitudes and character traits vital for success and happiness in life. Courage, persistence, perseverance, tenacity, work ethic are only born through hardship and stress. None of these can be learned by watching or reading or talking about it. They definitely cannot be learned with things which come too easy or too fast. These skills develop through the deep emotional experience of failure.

You probably know by now we intentionally allow our students to struggle and fail often especially as they become more senior. It is not easy for our instructors to do. They come to me all the time asking “Do we have to give out half stripes?” and “Joey is not ready to test, does he have to test today?” It is hard for us to fail kids but we know we have to. We forget this is one of the few places where failure can be experienced regularly and safely.

You might be surprised but a very good thing that can happen is for your child to fail here and be devastated. As a matter of fact, often the parents are more devastated than their child. But we know that the more devastating and crushing the defeat the better it is for them. Their crying is actually a very good thing because it means they care and it means something to them!

The best thing you can do as a parent is give them smaller doses of failure more often. (We will take care of the big ones!) Things like boredom. Let them get bored because it is good for their development. Let them skin their knee. Don’t pick them up all the time. Let them solve their own problems. Except for bullying let them fight their own fights. Make them do chores and things they do not like often. Make them eat things they do not like often.

Insist they do lots of small things they do not like. Make them stop an activity like video gaming when they do not want to. Make them wait. Teach them to do things well whether they like it or not. I learned a new quote which I love “You don’t have to like what you are doing to love what you are doing!’

So if your child were a tree, how often do you pull out that “parenting umbrella” to protect them from both the sun and rain? Do you have that umbrella open all the time? If you have that umbrella out too much it just might bring up that “H” word . . . Helicopter Parents!

Put that umbrella away except in emergencies. They need it a lot less than you think.

“Prepare the Child for the Road, not the Road for the Child.”


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