10 Ways To Teach Your Child That Failure Is A Part Of Learning

10 Ways To Teach Your Child That Failure Is A Part Of Learning

Failure is not only normal, it is essential for growth and learning. Yes, that’s right: to learn we must fail. In a world that often celebrates success and achievement, it can be easy for children to develop a fear of failure. The truth is many of us are constantly held back by this fear even as adults. So how do we ensure that children develop a mindset for success? How do we encourage them to try even when they face the potential of failure? And when they fail, how do we get them to keep trying? 

The most famous inventor of the 20th century, Thomas Edison once said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that it won’t work.”  As parents, we have to help children understand that every attempt provides a lesson to learn. Reframing failure in this way is how we give children the opportunity to learn from their setbacks, review the situation, adapt and improve for success. 

Create A Safe And Empathic Environment For Failure

Creating a safe and supportive learning environment is crucial for children to embrace failure. As a parent, your role is very important in encouraging them to take risks and make mistakes without fear. Offer praise and encouragement not only for success but also for effort. When children face failure, they respond best to empathetic gestures and conversations. Instead of dismissing their feelings with phrases like, “It’s okay, you will do better next time,” empathise with their distress. Acknowledge their disappointment and express understanding, saying something like, “I can see that you are really disappointed by this, and I know you are hoping to do better.”

Share Stories About Your Own Failure

As social creatures, we learn from each other, often through storytelling. Sharing personal experiences of failure and resilience can be a powerful way to teach children important life lessons. Tell your child about a time when you faced failure and how you handled it. Be honest about the challenges you encountered and the emotions you felt. Most importantly, share what you learned from the experience and how it ultimately made you stronger. Make sure your child understands that sometimes you don’t achieve what you set out to do, but through persistence and monomaniacally focusing, they can yield incredible results. 

If you don’t have a personal story that directly relates to your child’s situation, find one that is relevant and authentic. We have all heard the stories of failure, Einstein was classified by his teachers as “mentally slow” and Walt Disney was fired from one of his first jobs due to “lack of creativity”. Tell them these stories so they can dare to take risks, fail again, try again and reach their full potential. Many great teachers use storytelling to inspire and teach others, and you can do the same for your child. 

Encourage Them To Reflect On Their Failures 

When your child fails, it is a great idea to spend time with your child and help them to examine what went wrong and why. You can work together to come up with an action plan on what to do to apply the knowledge from what has happened and ensure they are prepared when the next opportunity presents itself. Questions such as, “why?”, “Is there another way to do it?” or, “What if this happened, what would you do?” But remember to not be harsh when asking these questions. This could have an opposite effect if the child feels attacked or criticised. The goal is to offer thoughtful support and facilitate their critical thinking and problem solving in the situation. This process of self-reflection allows them to identify areas for improvement and develop strategies for future success. By learning from their mistakes, children can become more self-aware and proactive in their approach to learning and personal growth

Help Them Build Their Tolerance For Frustration

Helping your child learn to deal with frustration is really important, especially when things don’t go their way. According to Dr Mintzer, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute, strengthening our ability to stay strong in stressful times, which is also known as frustration tolerance, is how we learn to accept unexpected situations such as failure. Not learning to tolerate failure leaves kids vulnerable to anxiety. It leads to meltdowns when the inevitable failure does occur, whether it happens in preschool or college. And perhaps even more important, it can make kids give up trying—or trying new things.

We have to balance our acceptance of failure with the strength and courage to make the necessary changes for success the next time we try again. Many of us are constantly held back by the fear of failure. Frustration tolerance is all about being able to handle tough times and not giving up, even when we face failure. So when they keep trying, even when they feel frustrated or fail, they start to build confidence. They learn that it’s okay to stumble because every setback is a chance to learn and grow. That’s how they become resilient and unstoppable, no matter what life throws at them

Teach Them To Embrace Their Own Journey

From as early as 2 years old, children start to become aware of others’ opinions, sometimes fearing judgement from teachers, friends, and even their parents. This fear of what others might think if they fail can hold them back from taking risks and making decisions that are true to themselves. But by guiding your child to embrace their own journey, you give them the confidence to overcome this fear. You will be teaching them that in life, success often requires making choices that others might not understand, and that’s okay. By focusing on their own path and staying true to themselves, they’ll learn that failure is just a stepping stone on the road to success.

Be A Model For Resilience And Positive Coping Mechanisms

As a parent, you have the incredible opportunity to show your children how to handle life’s challenges with resilience. One of the most powerful ways to do this is by demonstrating positive coping strategies in your own life. When you face setbacks or difficulties, openly share with your children how you’re feeling and how you plan to manage those emotions. For example, you might practise deep breathing exercises or turn to a trusted friend for support. By showing your children these coping strategies in action, you’re teaching them valuable skills for dealing with adversity. You’re also showing them that it’s okay to ask for help when needed. Remember, your actions speak louder than words, so by consistently modelling positive coping strategies, you’re helping to build resilience in your children and empowering them to tackle life’s challenges with confidence.

Foster A Growth Mindset

When your child fails, it can be difficult for them to move past it. Teaching your child to embrace their failure is crucial for fostering a growth mindset. A growth mindset helps your child believe that their abilities and intelligence can be cultivated through hard work and perseverance. By understanding that failure is not a reflection of their abilities but rather an opportunity for growth, children are empowered to embrace challenges, persist through setbacks, and ultimately achieve greater success. You can learn more about the growth mindset through our workshop, “The 9 Success Habits to Help Your Teen Succeed at School and Beyond”

It can be difficult to teach a growth mindset especially if you don’t know where to start. A good place to begin is to stop complimenting their natural abilities and effort. This will make them think that they are already naturally inclined which leads to thinking that this is fixed. Effort is important for a growth mindset. By encouraging it, your child will assume that trying anything is good enough. It’s best to encourage their thinking. Try with phrases like “It’s ok if that didn’t happen. What are you going to do better next time” or “Great Job! Creating that list of goals really helped you!”. By using these phrases, your child will develop critical thinking skills and use techniques that yield the best results.

Nurture Their Curiosity And Desire To Learn

Encouraging children to develop a love for learning is about more than just giving instructions or comparing them to others. Nurturing curiosity and a desire to learn requires going beyond simple motivation. It involves engaging children in activities that encourage them to discover things on their own, such as interactive games. By associating learning with positive emotions, you can create lasting memories and foster a genuine enthusiasm for acquiring knowledge. Encouraging children to explore their interests and pursue learning for its own sake sets the foundation for a lifelong passion for education. Encouraging a love for learning helps children overcome the fear of failure. When they’re motivated by curiosity, they become more resilient and understand that mistakes are part of growth. 

Give Them The Facts About The Benefits Of Failing

While the concept of failure may seem discouraging, scientific research has uncovered several surprising facts about its benefits. Brain scans have proved that the more mistakes we make, the more our brain grows. Research by Overbye (2022) has found that the part of the brain that is important for learning from our mistakes takes a really long time to develop compared to many other parts of the brain. Physically not by much, otherwise we’d all have bulging heads. 

Essentially, failure stimulates neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to reorganise and form new connections. When they face setbacks, their brains become more adaptable and resilient, enhancing learning and problem-solving abilities. Failure fuels innovation and creativity by encouraging individuals to think outside the box and explore alternative solutions. Many groundbreaking discoveries and inventions have arisen from failed attempts and experimentation. Remember Edison’s quote at the start? By reframing failure as a natural and beneficial part of the learning process, children can embrace challenges with a renewed sense of optimism and perseverance.

Learn The Habits For Success

At GT Scholars, our main goal is teaching young people how to overcome the challenges they face and to pursue their goals and aspirations confidently.

That’s why we created the Success Habits Workshop! Through this workshop, we teach young people about the 9 Scholar Success Habits that they can use to achieve success at school and beyond! The best part is these habits aren’t limited to teens, anyone can learn and implement them in their day-to-day lives. Interested in finding out more? You can register for the Success Habits Workshop by clicking here.

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