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How to Help Your Child Deal with Failure

No one has ever reached the pinnacle of success without experiencing failure. On reflection, we recall how many times we failed in life and yet what we are today is the outcome of not succumbing to failure. Yes, failure is a part of life and a greater teacher than success. However, why do children deal poorly with failure? How can parents help their child deal with failure?

Why do a lot of children deal poorly with failure?

It is because as parents either we put too much of pressure on them or we are overly protective of them. We may set the bar of success too high for them and then pressure them into reaching it or we tend to shield them from any accountability. For example, if a child gets into a conflict with a classmate, parents tend to blame the classmate for the trouble created or if he fails to get a good grade in a subject, they conveniently hold the teacher responsible. Thus, how can children learn to deal with failure if they are overly pressurised to perform or shielded from the consequences of their actions?

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Many children deal poorly with failure

As parents what can you do?  

Be Realistic

The tragedy of life today is our unwillingness to believe or accept that our children will fail too. When we have failed innumerable times why should we expect that our children will not fail? This pretense on our part puts unnecessary pressure on our children. Be it academics, a sport or a performance on stage, we want our children to secure the position of honour. Desiring our child to do well is nothing bad but insisting that nothing less than the best is acceptable to us is bound to lead to disaster. Many accomplished sportsmen have failed to even qualify in a race; similarly many established performers have had setbacks. That being said why can’t our children have setbacks too? Looked at realistically, setbacks can teach children resilience, a quality that children are not born with but can acquire. So never pressure the child to become what you are or what you could never become.

Teach them Accountability

Actions have outcomes. Damages have costs. Mistakes have consequences. Teach them the principle of cause and effect so that they feel a measure of responsibility for their part in what has happened. Therefore, as parents avoid shifting the blame or making excuses for them. Instead let them experience the consequences appropriate to their age so that they learn to see the connection between wrong actions and the consequences that follow.

Be Supportive not Critical

Though failure is a great teacher it is not necessarily embraced with open arms. As parents, help your children focus on finding solutions instead of brooding over the results. Help them see why and where things went wrong and how they could perform better in the next challenge. Help them find solutions not excuses. Refrain from needless criticism because nothing damages a child’s self-confidence more than harsh criticism. Instead, be the hand of reassurance that convinces them that most obstacles in life are surmountable with patience and diligence.

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Harsh criticism breaks a child emotionally

Prepare them to accept failure

Drilling the thought into your child that he is “the best” at something is neither realistic nor helpful. Rather, instil in him that the fast do not always win the race or the strong the fight. When a child is brought up to have a modest view of himself, he is better able to cope with failures and setbacks and this develops strong character and will power that motivates him to keep moving forward and not giving up.

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Be a role model 

As a parent, set the example. Remember, how you handle life’s disappointments will help train your children how to handle theirs.

A lot of children today are taking dangerous steps because they cannot live up to their parents’ expectations nor cope with failure. Teach them from an early age that failure is a part of life not the end of it. Set reasonable goals for them. Accept their individuality and abilities and help them feel confident that their parents, their biggest support in life are always there for them.

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