The Joys of Failure
Winning and being successful brings a great deal of happiness. You feel good when you succeed and receive recognition. As a parent you want your children to feel this same happiness and as a parent you may do everything in your power to ensure that your children continue to feel the joy and pride that comes with being successful. It is understandable; no parent wants to see their children feel the sting of failure and the unhappiness that may follow. However, could helping your children achieve cause more harm than good? Can preventing your children from experiencing failure prevent them from experiencing genuine success?
No one likes to fail. Losing can leave a bad taste in your mouth and who wants their children to experience that. Some children may experience losing as an indication that something is inherently wrong with them; they’re a loser. Some children may see losing as evidence that they are letting their parents down.
However the demand to avoid failure and succeed can create intense pressure to excel. This pressure may be explicit, “You’re either first or your last” but more than likely the importance of winning is implicit – conveyed in body language and non-verbal gestures of disappointment, disapproval, et cetera. This pressure to excel and the fear of failure can make it difficult for a child to truly enjoy what they are doing. More specifically, it is difficult to enjoy something if you’re worried about doing it wrong. This pressure can be paralyzing – it may prevent a child from trying new things where the certainty of success is unknown. Despite the negative emotions that accompany failure and the fear of failure, failing is important. In fact, losing may prove more beneficial in the long run than winning. Failure presents children with tremendous opportunities.
Failure allows kids to:
- Learn from mistakes
- Develop skills to deal with adversity and challenges
- Develop skills to deal with frustration
- Develop their self-efficacy and self-reliance
- Failing, making corrections and then succeeding can give a child confidence to handle future challenges
- Appreciate success
The emotions and consequences connected with failing can be overwhelming. As a parent it may be difficult to sit back and let your child fail. It can be even tougher to know the right balance of success and failure you should help your child achieve. At Equilibria Psychological and Consultation Services, we have experienced therapists that work with children/teens and their families and can aid in learning to deal with failure and the emotions that follow. We also work closely with children/teens who tend to be overachievers and/or underachievers. Please do not hesitate to contact us at 267-861-3685 x91 for more information about how we can help.