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A Back-to-School Lesson: Helping children learn from failure

Celebrate your child's "failures" because "failing" means they tried.

Children often think that everyone has natural talent, that success comes easy, and if they struggle, it makes them a failure. The truth is, everyone fails. It’s how they learn to respond to failure that will define their future. Bob Vandepol stopped by to discuss re-framing “failures” with your children as vital milestones along the path of life that will help them learn, grow, find their way and succeed.

Good news! These are great, teachable moments. They’re times when we can help our children learn how to manage small stress and disappointments. We can help them fill their skills toolbox with many useful tools that they’ll need when bigger stress and disappointment hits. Here’s how:

Celebrate “failure.”

You can only fail IF YOU TRY. Parents teach children to enjoy the process of learning by expressing positive views of challenges, effort and mistakes. It’s critical to reward effort, learning and progress. It’s important to reinforce the processes that yield success like seeking help, trying new strategies and capitalizing on setbacks to move forward.

Share your own failures and how you grew from them. Let you child catch you doing things you’re not great at. Don’t be afraid to try new things, look like a beginner or be just a little “silly." Jump into that next game of charades, sing out of tune or miss a few baskets. You’ll show your child that he or she doesn't need to be perfect at everything.

Let your children talk to you about how they feel without judging.

Let your child know you are willing to listen unconditionally to whatever he or she shares. Refrain from criticizing or passing judgment. No one wants to share thoughts and feelings just to be told they are wrong and need to be fixed.

Even if what your child shares seems trivial, silly or irrational, don’t try to explain why things aren’t as bad as they seem. Your child will feel you don’t “get it” or are unwilling to take him or her seriously.

Show your child it’s OK to ask for help.

Self-reliance is an admirable trait, but it can limit our ability too. The most successful people have learned they can’t do it all themselves. Start by asking for your child’s help around the house, the yard, with a special project, navigating YouTube, etc. You could share those of famous (to them) people as well.

Even though it’d be easier to fix it, let them solve their own problems.

Don’t rob your child of a win! You can help them problem solve and create an action plan, but let them make the effort – of course, appropriate to their age.

Remind them of successes they’ve had with other stressful situations in the past, times they’ve worked hard to achieve and obstacles they’ve overcome.

Model and talk about what you do to manage your stress.

How do you manage your own stress? Is it swimming laps, shooting hoops, prayer, meditation, taking walks in the park at lunchtime, gardening or rebuilding cars in your garage? Verbalize how these activities help you feel better about yourself, relax and energize you, change your attitude, etc.

Encourage their faith practice.

You don’t have to tell them what to believe, but encourage them to have a spiritual life… pray, meditate, create a personal mission statement or attend faith community. Encourage them to pray for peace of mind rather than to get their way.

For more information on re-framing failure, visit https://www.pinerest.org/.

This article is courtesy of Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services.

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If you would like more information about advertising with 13 ON YOUR SIDE, please contact Jeff Olsen at jolsen@wzzm13.com.