Ahhh… it is so tough to let your child fail! From the moment newborns are placed in our arms, we love them unconditionally, we support them as they learn to sit, crawl, and walk. We guide them as they makes friends, we teach them how to read and write, and we give them comfort after every bump and bruise. However, letting your kid fail is parting teaching choices and consequences. Making mistakes is an important part of allowing them become independent and learn responsibility.
Why Parents Should Let Their Child Fail And Make Mistakes
We learn and develop all kinds of ways to help kids succeed but sometimes we really need to just stand back and let them fail. Let kids learn from their mistakes while their mistakes are little and don’t have irreversible consequences. Yes, it is tough, and uncomfortable, and it goes against every fiber in our being as good parents but… as they get older, you just need to let your child fail.
This week was one of those times in the Youngblood house. My son has a small, bad habit of not always remembering to bring home everything from school. His projects, his lunch box, or his coat, or his shoe (you get the idea)!
Sure enough, my son had a project due at school today. This time he brought it home but he had no idea that he actually did! Thankfully, it was nothing major, just a couple of pages of reading and summarizing. I asked him every night if he had a summary due on Friday. He kept telling me no. I found the papers in his backpack on Wednesday and put them on the counter where we keep homework. I continued to ask him and he continued to say no. Last night, (Thursday) I asked him three times and I even said the magic words…”Are you sure!” The answer was still… “Nope, no summary this week, Dad.”
So, this morning as he came downstairs, 20 minutes before time to go… I held up the paper off the counter and asked “what is this?”
His eyes got huge and the first words out of his mouth were…”Oh, crap!” I told him that I just happened to find them on Wednesday and that he had 20 minutes to get as much done as he could before we left – knowing full well that there was no way he would even come close to finishing.
He started working feverishly – and also started a sad, slow, quiet cry. It was painful, for him and for me! But it was necessary. He got a couple of answers written and it was time to go. No breakfast, no happiness, no hair combing, no joy this morning in our house.
On the way to school we talked about his failure as he continued to softly cry. I told him it was tough but it was a reminder that he needed to start being more accountable with his tasks and with his responsibilities. If he wasn’t, he was going to have a lot more mornings like this one.
I then asked him the test question. I said “do you want to just ’accidentally’ forget it at home and then finish it and bring it in on Monday?” He looked at me like I was a little crazy and said “No Dad. This was my screw up, I will do the right thing and take the blame!” Good answer That’s my boy!
Small Struggles Can Help Us Build Resilience
When your children are given the opportunity to struggle, and sometimes fail, you allow them to develop important life, social, and emotional skills. Of course, you don’t risk their safety, or not respond when the need genuine help or guidance. However, you do need to turn a blind eye at times when you see they are about to have a stumble that can be a learning opportunity.
At times, your role should be to simply support and teach, rather than to do every task for them – especially things that they need to learn to do for themselves. It is often during these times, when things aren’t perfect or when life dose not work out, that children have the opportunity to develop great skills for dealing with struggles and thriving through trouble. Coping skills are like muscles – we don’t know how strong they truly are until we need to use them.
Letting your children fail is not an easy thing to do but, in the long run, it will teach them resiliency and strength and character. It might just help you out with some of those things as well – I know that I learn from my son each and every day and I am a better man because of it! Is it time to let your child fail?
Rob Youngblood is a Dad, Keynote Speaker, Life and Communication Coach, Emmy Award Winning TV Host, Writer, and Storyteller. Learn more about him and follow him on Twitter.