Below is an email with a new parent I think you might find valuable:
Hi again Linda,
It was nice chatting with you about your daughter Alena.
We had such a lengthy and involved conversation over the phone, I now realized I never shared with you how we actually help children with their self-confidence, courage and assertiveness!
It is actually pretty simple and straight forward. Like I said, Alena sounds like a lot of the young children we work with today - cautious, timid, needing to get things right the first time, holding back. The problem in raising a child today is their lives in general are too “success rich”. If you look at school and most youth sports and activities, there is very little failure or struggle. Everyone gets a trophy. There is no second place.
Like the saying - "Kids need to skin their knees and eat dirt". We as parents, think we are helping our children by clearing the path for them and making sure they excel and shine at everything. We think this is good for their self-esteem. While they may look and feel good, and it makes us feel proud, they are actually becoming weaker emotionally. When you fail and struggle you get stronger. When things are easy and come too fast, you emotionally get weaker. You cannot handle hardship or do things that are hard, or things you do not want to do. You can see this when they give up, shutdown or even worse, have a meltdown.
At our dojo we may be unique in that we are able to intentionally create a “failure rich” environment. Like I tell our parents -"we are not training your kids to be perfect . . . we are training them to fail." Often this failure is harder on the parents than their kids!
As they progress to higher and higher levels of classes, the failure we induce in them becomes even more frequent and bigger, but here is the interesting reason why - we have to get tougher and harder on them because the kids become so strong. Failing does not phase them. They get right back up and it drives them. Instead of crushing them it makes them even more determined. This passion is exhilarating to see. This is GRIT!
Failure is an interesting emotion. I get parents all the time who say “I tell my child all the time it is okay to fail”. But people cannot learn the skill to not fear failure on an intellectual level because it is an "emotional" skill. You can tell them it is okay to fail, you get them to understand how important it is to fail, you can show them examples, you can even model it yourself but they will never learn it on an intellectual level. It can really only be learned and developed when you consistently and repeated feel the crushing and devastatingemotionof failure then power through it. You have to actually emotionally experience getting knocked down and getting back up.
We want Alena to struggle and fail here . . . where she is safe.
I hope this makes sense,