The Importance of Failure

by Melissa Buckley
BStrong Together Board President 


How can we prepare our children to manage the challenges of growing up? How do we encourage the resilience and tenacity needed, not just for high school or college, but also for adulthood?

Joan Bell, BHS Counselor, and other BHS staff members at last week’s BStrong Together Parent Coffee "Balancing the Achievement Treadmill" discussed the importance of building coping skills and resiliency when our children are young.

We need to teach our kids how to deal with failure and accept the consequences of making a mistake. And a phrase I liked: how to be comfortable being uncomfortable. What does this mean?

It starts with letting our young leaners do their homework or projects with limited involvement from us. Resisting the urge to jump in and make something ‘better’ or ‘more accurate.’ If we jump in to ‘improve’ their work, we are sending them the message that their efforts aren’t enough.

We send similar messages to our kids when we solve their relationship challenges. Let your daughter approach the teacher herself about the tablemate that is distracting her during math. Help her find the words and the best time to talk to the teacher, but don’t email the teacher to solve the problem. Give her a chance to fix it herself. This same approach can be applied to issues with friends or teammates.

Most importantly, we need to let our kids fail. Early and often, so they can experience disappointment and learn to try again and again. Through perseverance, they can experience the joy of success. Middle school is the time to let them learn the organizational and study skills they will need in high school. Getting a “C” (or worse!) because they repeatedly forget to turn in their homework or don’t put in enough study time can become a valuable learning experience.

All of these opportunities give our children the skills, confidence and grit they need to manage the academic challenges, relationship issues, and life transitions that they will undoubtedly experience as they move through adolescence into adulthood.

Learn more from the BHS staff about how parents can build resiliency in their children, help our kids manage stress and reduce school anxiety by either watching the video from the November 1st coffee or reviewing their PowerPoint presentation.

I also recommend The Gift of Failure: How Parents Can Let Go So Children Can Succeed by Jessica Lahey. Lahey provides practical advice for parents on how to build resilience and learn from failure.  This video from Jessica Lahey gives you better insight into the gift of failure, the value of those mistakes, and the importance of a growth mindset that says that failure just means that you haven't learned it YET.  

Author and speaker Jessica Lahey expains the value in mistakes, the gift of failure, and the importance of the growth mindset.

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