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3 Healthy Ways To Teach Your Child About Failure

How to teach your child about failure


Think of any successful person you know in the world today and find out if they have not had one or numerous experiences of failure. If only they had bucked down to the experience, consider where they would have been today.

The saying that ‘failure is not an option’, can be a way to distract a person from dealing with the causes of that failure. 

To teach your child about failure, you need to understand that:

Failure is an option; a healthy one that ingrains a process of learning and creates permanence in understanding. 

Teaching a child failure, is a good thing. But sadly, we pass down our etched-in-stone inaccurate connotation of failure to the younger generations. This inaccuracy ensures that the child experiences more difficulty and hatred towards themselves. Thereby, making it difficult to navigate their way when they find themselves muddled up in circumstances relating to failure.

For best practices, it is best you focus on healthy ways to teach your child about failure. This would enable him have the accurate foundation on the constructive meaning of failure.

Areas to cover in this article:

How do you react when your child fails?

How do you teach your child about failure?

How do you help your child deal with disappointments?


How do you react when a child fails?

How your child relates with the events of failure, is a product of how you react when they fail. Do you see their failure as a deficiency in the child or as a deficiency in their learning?

Your answer to this, is a definite response on how your child handles failure. Either by hoarding as a result of shame, and shifting responsibility to other people or things. Or by taking responsibility for their mistakes and learning to grow from it.

Calmly help them see that they need to put in more effort as it is obvious the appropriate learning is yet to happen. 


How to help your child deal with disappointment

It can be tough to watch your child go through the rigmarole of disappointment, especially when they put in efforts and it crumbles before them. The emotional roller coaster that comes with it can be unbearable. However, it is not a call to try to ‘save’ them from themselves. 

  • Validate their feelings. For example, rather than chide them for expressing disappointment, say: “I’d feel the same way if i were you. It’s perfectly natural.”
  • Make a commitment to help them work through their areas of struggle. Your child feels more confident when you are invested in helping them improve.
  • Create a study habit that is in sync with their learning style. 


How to teach your child to about failure


1.  Do Not Berate Them For Failing

Whether you know it or not, a child already feels awful for failing. However, they may not show it in a way that is acceptable to you. To teach a child failure, scolding or berating them for failing automatically sends the messages that failure is something shameful.  And more harmful, is the message that they themselves are something shameful.

This automatically breeds another problem of the feeling of worthlessness. This is detrimental. Blaming and shaming technique sends the wrong message to the child on the fundamental meaning that failure heralds.

How to teach a child about failure


It is also important to state that often, a child’s failure bruises the already existing fragile ego of the parents. Therefore, they take out their frustration on the child. This act is definitely not in the interest of the growth of the child, rather it puts the child in a victim position.

In many cases, the child deviates from their original path, which sets them off on a life of struggle, throughout their life. As a parent, understand that not every competition is meant for your child. Help them to focus on their strength and hone them. This way they grow in their natural space and learn to pick their battles. Here, you are teaching them to learn to identify with their strength and also to know when to walk away from situations that do not serve them.


2.  Encourage Them Until They Get It Right

No one has ever failed by doing nothing. Failure is a sign that an attempt was initiated. When a child fails at something, it is the responsibility of the teacher (parent) to find the missing link and correct where appropriate. This correction becomes an updating of learning which neuro-psychologists call instinct. And in future, the brain is able to recall and calmly follow through on the procedures.

Yelling and breathing down on the child when failure occurs, puts the child in a defensive mode. Moreover, when this happens, the brain activates the part responsible for releasing stress hormones (The Amygdala). This is such that the child sees the teacher (parent) as a danger, shuts down, and is unable to learn anything. And in reality, he or she learns to associate learning with danger or difficulty. Consequently, this leads to more mistakes or  failures.

What you need to know

No one has ever failed by doing nothing. Failure is a sign that an attempt was initiated. Therefore, it is a call to redefine the process.


how to teach your child about failure

A child who lives in fear is prone to make mistakes because he or she is neither learning nor assimilating. More importantly, a child who associates mistakes or failures to danger or difficulty learns that mistakes are something inappropriate or demonic, and should be avoided at all costs. To engage a child in constructive learning, encourage the child until they get it right. Even in the face of several confrontations with failure, let them understand the focus is on the continuous learning until it is assimilated. For effectiveness, it is pertinent that you engage the child in his or her learning style- the way that is unique to them alone. This constitutes a healthy way to teach your child about failure.


3.  Do Not Be Quick To Support Them At Every Fall, Only Guide

The whole essence of failure is to educate on self-reliance, which consequently promotes growth. In this case, it is important that you help guide the child and not muddle their learning process. When a correction is given, it is the responsibility of the child to emulate the process, but not without assistance from parents or caregivers. This will enable him or her understand that the laid down procedures are guides, until they become instinctual.

However, this should not encourage neglect on the part of the parent. A child can have several attempts at learning and still get it wrong. The onus lies on the parent to guide when necessary, and understand that learning is a slow process and requires adequate patience.

healthy ways to teach a child about failure

Just as a child learning to walk, you do not hold the child each time he or she attempts to re-initiate the process. After each fall, the child as a result of instinct, learns to support themselves around the house, till their feet are strong enough to stand without support. This helps them become self-reliant during the process. Self-reliance and responsibility is one of the major traits of emotional maturity and intelligence. Having your child develop it early will help them build a strong foundation and resilience that they can rely on for the rest of their lives.


Teach your child to fail

Teach your child to fail. It is a survival skill that will lead them all-through their life, and help them pick back up when they fall.

The event of failure is a necessity. It is a value, a guide to growth, which is a necessity for life. The child that you have today is the adult who would make decisions tomorrow. Therefore, best practice demands that you equip them to stand tomorrow’s test of time. 

It is my hope that this article on ‘how to teach your child about failure’, is sufficient in helping you start your journey to building a resilient child. Otherwise, drop in your comments or write to us.

Further Reading: 5 ways neglect leads to behavioral outbursts (and how to manage it)

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