Kids, Mom Life, parenting, Parenting is hard

Why We Should Let Our Kids Fail

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.

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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!

Failing Helps Kids Learn BIG Lessons!

Mistakes Happen and Kids Need to Learn From Them

Failing 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!

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.

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.

Helps 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.  

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 and you can’t always win or have success.

Fail Now, Succeed 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. 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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13 thoughts on “Why We Should Let Our Kids Fail”

  1. These are all such great points!! And letting them fail and learn those lessons in 5th grade is so much better than 11th grade.

  2. Yes! Yes! Yes! There is so much wisdom in this article. I especially like your points, “When we carry their burdens, we teach them it is too hard for them,” and, “Failure helps us understand priorities.” As a teacher and a parent, I have seen both sides of these concepts. And, children who learn from their mistakes come out ahead in terms of resilience, problem-solving, and developing a growth mindset! I’m sharing this across Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter! Thank you.

  3. This is somthing that definaly more people need to talk about. its ok ti fail. It ok not to be an ‘A’ Student as long as you try your best.

  4. It is soooo hard to apply this to real life. It is hard to watch your kids fail. But you are soooo right. It teaches them valuable lessons. If you do everything for them all the time and spend your whole life reminding them to do all the things, what happens when they’re responsible for all the things with no one checking on them? It’s not good. Such a great reminder to let them fail sometimes. <3 Jamie

  5. Yes! I absolutely agree with all of this! My 5 year old really struggles with this. Everything is a competition to her, for some reason. (I really don’t get it because neither my husband or I are like that…And she is the oldest. Maybe that’s a thing with the oldest kid?) She gets really mad and impatient when she can’t do something or it doesn’t go the way she wants. I keep trying to beat it into her head that it’s ok as long as she tries! Nothing is perfect!

  6. Great post, momma! For as much it is hard sometimes we have to let our kids fail or they will never learn! At times there is a much bigger lesson to learn when we let them fail…

  7. This. I love everything about this. I started doing this 1.5 years ago and it has been the best thing for my 13 yr old son and for our relationship. His confidence is up, he’s more responsible and I’m less stressed out trying to own problems that aren’t mine. We’re much closer than we used to be. If I could go back in time and change one thing about my parenting, it would be to start this sooner, beginning with that 2nd grade science fair. 😂 Thank you for so clearly stating all the benefits of letting our kids fail. #wanderingwednesday

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