Some of you may have children that always seem to succeed; there is no hoop they can’t shoot and no test they can’t ace. Eventually though, both our children and ourselves have to deal with the reality of failure.
Through homeschooling my children, I have often seen them experience moments of failure. At times it is an arithmetic test, losing their self-control, or not winning a competition. It often amazes me that they put more pressure on themselves than I ever would place there. They have a goal and become distraught when their own expectations are not met. How do we show our children that it is okay to fail; that failure is merely a life lesson, helping them to grow and learn? How do we help them move on?
Congratulate them on giving it their best. One aim for my children is that they do their best, no matter the circumstance. Even when they don’t quite reach their goal, they should still be congratulated on giving it their best shot.
Let them talk it out and offer empathy. My kids often need the opportunity to vent their frustration and “talk it out”. They want to figure out where they went wrong and how they can fix the problem. There is no need for me to get upset; I simply need to listen and then offer a comforting hug.
Don’t lecture, ask questions: Instead of telling my child what they could have done and should have done, I try asking them what they would have done differently. By allowing them work the problem out for themselves, we are helping them to grow and mature.
Offer personal insight. It sometimes helps when our children know we can personally relate to their circumstance. If we can explain how we have dealt with the same struggle, it will encourage them to keep trying and eventually succeed.
Help them to keep trying. My kids need to be encouraged not to let the situation get the best of them, but to use this as a springboard. If they can’t succeed in a particular field, I help them to explore other options. No matter what, we “try, try again”.
Please let me be clear. While we firmly believe in helping our children move past failure, we do not believe in rewarding effort only. Not every child is going to receive an award; nor should they. We encourage our children to do their best with the understanding their best might not get them a physical award or reward. They are doing their best for the glory of God, and the improvement of themselves. Children who assume every effort earns them a trophy are being set up for life-long failure.
Part of growing up and maturing, is failing. The key is learning to dust ourselves off, learn from the lesson, and move on. With compassion, understanding, and a lot of love, our children can learn this important life lesson.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
~II Corinthians 12:9-10
Chime In!: How do you help your children move on from failure?