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It's OK to fail........failure builds resilience in our kids.

Updated: Mar 23, 2023

Nelson Mandella once wrote "Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again".

Kelley O'Hara, United States Woman's NSL and International football player, writes a letter to her 14 year old self - She tells her 14 year old self that "rejection is a blessing and everything happens for a reason". After being rejected for many national teams, Kelley went on to become a starter and one of the best female athletes of her generation. Click the below link to read her story....

Most kids are afraid of failure. In fact sometimes the anxiety around failure can stop our children trying at all. As parents we need to educate our children that failure is a necessary component of success. In fact, our brains develop and grow in different ways when failure occurs. Failure should not only be accepted....the lessons learned from failure should be celebrated as much as we celebrate the successes.

As a parent I challenge you to think about your greatest mistakes or failures.... this failure probably taught you more courage, strength and wisdom than any success could have.

Failure will teach your kids resilience. The lessons learned from this failure will help them to learn, develop and cultivate the necessary skills to overcome greater challenges as teenagers and young adults.

Below are some tips that may help you put a positive slant on failure for your kids:

1. Focus your attention on a growth mindset - Growth Mindset assumes that abilities are able to be meaningfully grown and developed. Kids with a growth mindset thrive on challenge, and will show an increase in brain activity than those with a fixed mindset.

2. Let your kids fail - Key brain connections and problem solving skills are developed during the time children are dealing with challenging experiences. Shielding your kids from adversity can inhibit the development of these neural pathways and skills.

3. Embrace Failure - As strange as this may sound to some people - celebrate the failure!

  • Give your child a high five as they walk away from a failure.

  • Give the kids some time to brag about the failure. Have a laugh with them if it is something funny or embarrassing.

  • Get the kids to research famous people who failed many times before succeeding. Here is some to start with - Michael Jordan - He failed to make a high school team or Thomas Edison - He failed 1000 times before successfully inventing the light bulb on his 1001st attempt.

  • Discuss the acronym F.A.I.L with them - First Attempt In Learning

4. Explain the science behind the brain development - Kids naturally fear failure. Explaining their brain is growing and learning from the failure, may soften the blow for them and help you both find a positive in it.

5. Emphasise Failing Forward - You often hear athletes talking about failing forward. This means.... learn from your mistakes. They have learnt something and moved on from the failure. Ask questions of the child. "what did you learn from it"? or "how would you do it differently next time to get a different result"?

6. Teach your child some mindfulness techniques - The links between mindfulness and resilience is very well documented. By teaching your children to be aware of the strong feeling around failure, by normalising it, you will help them to respond to failure rather than react to it.

By teaching your kids methods to move through and learn from the failure, you will be teaching them resilience that will set them up for a lifetime of successes.

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