Embracing failure is not at all the same as enjoying failure. Failure is not fun. It’s difficult and disappointing, and it is not something that anyone enjoys. However, to embrace failure means to accept that at times it will occur. Regardless of how hard you work or how smart you are, everyone fails at one time or another. Embracing failure does not mean that you look forward to experiencing that let down, but rather that you are humble enough and open-minded to accept that not everything you do will be a success.
When you teach your child to embrace failure, it’s essentially a lesson in humility. Children fear failure because of how it may impact the way that others perceive them, which is a matter of pride. This is especially true as children get older and begin to work harder to win the approval of their peers. They need to recognize that everyone experiences failure and that no one is perfect. Helping your child to understand that it’s not the end of the world if they mess up or aren’t as successful as they wanted to be will go a long way towards creating a healthy relationship with effort and failure.
How does this apply to education?
Your child’s education is one area where you want to strongly emphasize the fact that sometimes they’ll have to work hard in order to experience success. You don’t want your child to hold themselves back because they’re afraid of failure, but rather to accept the challenges that they’re faced with. Embracing failure isn’t about pretending that it doesn’t matter when you fail, because we all know that it does. There are consequences for all of our actions and failing can hurt. But it isn’t the end of the world and there will always be more opportunities to prove yourself. There will be another test, there will be another baseball game. Practice, keep trying, and move on.
It’s important that, as a parent, you resist the urge to fix everything for your child. You might succeed in making them feel better temporarily, but you’re denying them the opportunity to grow as a person long term. Don’t pretend the failure didn’t occur, don’t swoop in and try to fix everything, and don’t blame the failure on other people. For example; if your child fails a math test obviously it’s because they haven’t mastered those math skills yet. Instead of jumping in and making excuses or punishing them because they haven’t mastered those skills, have a conversation with your child about why this failure occurred and what they can do to improve in the future. This way they can accept responsibility for their own learning while recognizing that life will go on. Learning is a process and not everyone learns at the same pace, and there’s no shame in that. Not shielding children from failure is key to raising resilient adults.
At St. Barnabas Episcopal School we embrace every opportunity to help your child learn and grow. Not just educationally, but spiritually and emotionally as well. Contact us today to learn more or schedule a tour of our school.