It’s hard to watch our kids fail at, but we should let them fail. We need to let them fail because failure leads to success and teaches valuable lessons. Failure is an option.
Why Failure Leads to Success to Help Kids Grow
It was the night before a big science test for Chase and I asked him if he had studied. He told me that he didn’t need to study because he knew exactly how to do it (in reality he wanted to play video games). I asked him one more time if he was sure he didn’t need to study or need help and he assured me he was fine.
The next day he went off to school to take the science test without studying. As I picked him up he seemed pretty optimistic that he did quite well. I told him that was great and we drove home.
A few days later I received a grade notification in my email:
“Unit J Test-Science” 67.00%
Chase had failed the science test.
Was I surprised he didn’t do well? NO, Not really; I mean let’s be honest he didn’t study, he probably didn’t apply himself during the test, and he didn’t know the material like he should have.
So at this point, you might be questioning Why I Didn’t Make Him Study because that’s what any RESPONSIBLE PARENT would do right?!
Well, the Reason I didn’t Make Him Study might Shock you, but I didn’t Make Him Because I am Okay with my Kids failing and here’s why!
Failure is an Option and Failure Leads to Success and Teaches Life Lessons
Mistakes Happen and Kids Need to Learn From Them
Failure is an option because it teaches our kids that mistakes happen and that we can learn from these mistakes. Chase made the choice to not study because he really wanted to play video games. His 11-year-old brain spoke to him and said, “this is a good idea,” when in reality it wasn’t. This was a mistake. If I would have told him that he is making a mistake by not studying and forced him too, he would not have believed me. He would have possibly gotten a better score on the test then he did, but then he would have continued to play video games every day when he came home from school. Since he failed, he now studies until 4:30 every day and then plays whatever he wants. He learned from his mistake! His own failure leads to success in the future!
Failure is an Option Because it Teaches Responsibility
Failing teaches responsibility. It teaches our kids to be accountable for their choices that they are making. When Chase failed that test he had to be responsible for it. He now had a grade he didn’t want in the class, so he ALL BY HIMSELF, had to make it better. He had to talk to the teacher about making it up or doing extra work. Then he had to study and retake the test for a better grade. If I would have forced him to study, to begin with, he would not have learned how to be responsible and have those conversations with his teacher.
Failure Leads to Success as It Builds Character
Failure builds character. It makes you become better. It teaches you patience, work ethic, dedication, and perseverance. When I got divorced it was hard. I had failed at something I never thought I would fail at. It was not a fun experience to go through, but because of that experience, it taught me so many life lessons. It built me into the person I am today. Letting our children fail builds their character and allows them to have growth that they wouldn’t have without it.
When We Carry Their Burdens, it Teaches them it is Too Hard For Them.
Do you remember teaching your kids to tie their shoes? Oh how badly we all just wanted to do it for them because it was way easier and faster! If we would have continued to do it for them it would have taught them that it was too hard to do. I remember teaching Chase to tie his shoes… Oh, my lanta it was painful, he would try and then start crying so then I would just do it for him until one day I stopped. I told him, “ Chase this is the last time I am going to tie your shoes for you. Next time you will do it by yourself.”
The next day there was wailing and gnashing of teeth about how he just couldn’t do it… He left the house with his shoelaces dragging, untied…
The next day the same thing happened. wailing and gnashing of teeth about how he just couldn’t do it… He left the house with his shoelaces dragging, untied…
Two days later I looked at his shoes while we were walking out the door and he had about 15 knots in his laces, but they were “tied” in his eyes.
Over time he learned to tie his shoes… In fact, he ties them in a way I can’t figure out, but it WORKS FOR HIM!
If I would have never made him do it, I would still be tying his shoes at 11 years old I guarantee.
Failure Helps Kids Understand Priorities
Failing teaches kids priorities. Think about this, if your child goes out for the baseball team at school and they don’t make it, they will feel one of two ways, 1. They will be devastated and try even harder to make the team next year or 2. They will simply think, “that’s a bummer” and continue on with daily life. If they go on with life they will learn that wasn’t important to them. If they continue to try and work really hard they will learn that things that are a priority take effort and they will put the effort into those things.
Failure Leads to Success by Teaching Them Real Life Does Not Protect You
We are headed in a direction in life where we are setting our kids up for big disappointments when they grow up. I mean let’s think about it for a minute, “participation trophies” “not keeping score at sporting events” “100% grades just as long as you turn it in” “A’s on major projects kids turn in 6 weeks late.”
These things are not teaching kids how the real world works. The bank doesn’t care that you were “too busy” to send the payment on time, they will slap you with late fees. Your boss won’t care if you were “too tired” this morning and showed up late, you will be fired.
It might be hard to compete all season and lose every game. It might be hard to get some wrong answers on last night’s homework. But these things teach you that success takes hard work. You can’t always win or have success.
Failure Leads to Success Later
Failure now teaches them to be successful later. It teaches them to work hard and how to have patience. It teaches them how the real world works, shapes them into responsible humans and so much more! If I would not have let Chase fail on that Science test he would still be playing video games all day long after school, not studying.
If I was always dictating to him when it was time to study and to play video games when it was time for him to go off to college he would probably be spending the first semester hanging out in his dorm room playing Forte Night (video game) rather than sitting in class learning because he would not have learned these lessons on his own as a kid, when mistakes make less of an impact on your life.
Parents Live In Fear of Their Kids Failing
Parents live in fear of their kids failing. They hover over everything their kids do to protect them from the world we live in. We are not teaching our kids to be responsible, we are in fact harming them for their future. If we continue to shelter them from failing when they are young, they will not be ready to venture away to college or to get jobs in the real world because we would have never shown them the great lessons they can learn by failing first. We need to let our kids fail so they learn how to succeed.
It is HARD to see our kids fail; I used to not let my kids fail either! I used to FORCE them to study and PRACTICE at home with things they didn’t really care about. I’ve since learned to let them fail teaches far greater lessons than I can teach pushing them to succeed. When we don’t let them fail we are actually not teaching them how the world really works. I know it is sad when they fail and I know we want to protect them from everything, but that is not life.
Do you agree that we should let our kids fail?
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Michele is a Family Life Educator. She is a mom to 5 kids and loves helping others strengthen their families! When she is not blogging she is spending time with her family and running around drinking Diet Coke trying to get everything done!