T(w)eens and the F Word: Failure

Updated: Dec 5, 2018

A toddler trips, falls, cries. Then, as if nothing happened, he’s up again, stumbling around with a big smile on his face. Fast forward ten years, and you’ve got a child who gets frustrated when life or school trips him up; sometimes he just gives up all together. You feel he's not living up to his potential, and he feels like a failure.

Sound familiar?

That toddler was able to learn from his failures and use them to achieve success. He embraced the challenge without worrying about the ramifications of failure. That’s what made these Glorious Failures; they were bumps and bruises along the way that led to success. But teens start seeing Failure as a sad event; a final destination.

Help Him Have Glorious Failures! How can you help your pre-teen or teen approach challenging situations the way he did when he was just a baby?

1. Model it:

Your willingness to put yourself in challenging situations where you risk looking silly or even stupid will go a long way in how your child perceived the sting of failure.

2. Identify Support:Help your child identify a support system who can help him through the rough patches. Letting your child know that you are his rock is a crucial first step, but encouraging him to find a team of rocks (an encouraging friend, teacher, coach...) will make him more likely to hang on as the climbing gets rough.

3. Talk About the ApproachWe know that you can’t expect different results if you keep doing the same thing over and over again. But a child has to learn this (um, and maybe some of us adults could, too?). Ask him to reflect on how he’s been going about the challenge and encourage him to identify for himself three ways he could alter his approach. This may be tough but, for the sake of ownership, it’s important that the child comes to these changes himself (with support, of course) rather than being told what to do.

4. Share:Let your child in on your frustrating moments and how you felt about these failures. Be willing to be vulnerable with your child. He may surprise you and become your rock.

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