6 Tips to Help Children Handle Failure

Girl chalkboard

How can we help our children handle the failures of everyday life?

Pressure can take many forms that challenge children and to which they must respond and, often, adapt. Whether a major event such as divorce of their parents, or merely a minor hassle like losing their homework, these demands or stresses are a part of children's daily existence.

Something that contributes to stress is “failure.” A book titled “The Gift of Failure” by Jessica Lahey is a great resource for parents to assist our kids in becoming successful. The main premise is to evaluate our “over-parenting” techniques. The book focuses on the critical school years when parents must learn to allow their children to experience the disappointment and frustration that occur from life’s inevitable problems so that they can grow up to be successful, resilient, and self-reliant adults.

The author lays out a blueprint with targeted advice for handling homework, report cards, social dynamics, and sports. Most importantly, she sets forth a plan to help parents learn to step back and embrace their children’s failures. The Gift of Failure is essential reading for parents, educators, and psychologists nationwide who want to help children succeed.

Modern parenting is defined by an unprecedented level of over-protectiveness: parents who rush to school at the whim of a phone call to deliver forgotten assignments, who challenge teachers on report card grades, mastermind children’s friendships, and interfere on the playing field.

Over parenting has the potential to ruin a child’s confidence and undermine their education. Teachers are teaching more than arithmetic: including responsibility, organization, manners, restraint, and foresight—important life skills children carry with them long after they leave the classroom.


Tips for parents:

  1. Be your child’s guide, not his savior
  2. Pare back the praise
  3. Encourage them to try new things
  4. Teach them to delay gratification
  5. Be a good role model
  6. Manage expectations

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When to step in:

  • If failing would cause him tremendous humiliation
  • If you child is in danger
  • If he’s being bullied
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