Why You Should Let Your Kids Fail – Eight Tips for Doing So Wisely

When our kids get hurt, we hurt, however, letting out hurts interfere with what a child needs in order to grow emotional strong hurts more in the long run.

Failing to try.

Bill Gates said, “Success is a lousy teacher.It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”

But we all lose at something. Failure is part of living. Your child does not need to be protected from failure; s/he needs to be taught to look for the lessons and move on.

The dangers of thinking we cannot lose are multiple:

  1. Spawns arrogance
  2. Creates disdain for those who do fail
  3. Closes our mind to other points of view or possibilities
  4. Keeps us from seeking feedback
  5. When we fail we are devastated

Not being able to deal with failure and hence feeling hopeless is a known risk factor involved in suicidal attempts. As noted by the Charles Kubly Foundation which promotes understanding of depression and suicide:

Research also supports the idea that suicidal individuals may hold higher standards for themselves than the average person. These elevated standards, which at worst may manifest as perfectionism, may leave individuals vulnerable to perceptions of failure and ultimately to thoughts of hopelessness and suicide. a type of suicide known as failure induced suicides….

Sadly, many of the current parent gurus and so many parents want to protect children from the pain of failure.  Want proof? Think  about the following:

  • Giving out participation trophies at competitive events
  • “Awfulizing” punishment. Punishment has become a dirty word. Reasonable, not abusive, punishments work. Moreover when you don’t praise or reward that is a punishment.
  • Ungraded class rooms.
  • Encouraging talents that do not exist – watch American Idol auditions.

Parenting tips

Parenting tip one:  Get you own expectations in order.  What matters most to you. What do you dream of your child becoming. Are you dreaming unrealistic dreams of an Olympic medal for a kid with a bit of athletic talent; planning or Harvard for your smart three-year-old.

Parenting tip two: Assume responsibility for your own happiness . It is normal to live a bit via  hopes your child will star and in ways you wanted to but did not. Just be sure, you are not living through your child.

Parenting tip three: Examine your own failures. How did you survive, what lessons did you learn.

Parenting tip four:  Consciously teach critical thinking. The younger your child the more s/he  needs your help sorting out what is real and what is not.

Do not worry  about a pre-preschooler’s fantasies; at the same time, point out the make-believe stuff. Label play and make-believe as pretending or imaging.

Saying “It is fun to believe in dream of being a major league star, but not all dreams come true will not seriously diminish the child’s pleasure, while paving the way for when s/he begins to understand what is real and what is not.

Once the child stops believing in the Santa Claus or similar myths, start asking as you watch movies or media together “What’s real about that?” or “What’s fantasy about that?”

As the teens are entered upon, continue the discussions suggested above, but go deeper.  One easy way to encourage deeper thought is to say “And” when the teen seems to have reached a limit in his thoughts.

Parenting tip five: Encourage sports, competitive games, but for the fun they bring whether one wins or loses.

Parenting tip six: Also encourage hobbies, reading, crafting, legos, puzzle solving, drawing, and writing for the fun each brings. Downplay any competitive thoughts tied to such things.

Parenting tip seven: Remember what matters. Emotional intelligence (EI) is more important in living the good life than IQ or material successes.  Good relationships are an important part of EI. These come from observing the many variations of the Golden Rule which essential promotes practicing kindness.

Parenting tip eight: Part of knowing what matters involves setting Smart Goals and teach your child to to the same.  This poster coach will start you off.

smart goals

My eBook Know Your Mission So You Can Reach Your Goals details the way to the good life by knowing what matters and setting achievable  goals. Buy it now, it costs less than a latte.

As one reviewer noted:”Katherine Gordy Levine shares her expertise by clearly explaining goal-setting. As the author of many books, she is a living example of what she teaches. I recommend this kindle book if the reader wants to learn goal-setting without a long tedious explanation. Katherine gets right to the meat of her topic.”

Made me blush. Still does.


Sharing is caring; so is liking, or commenting.

Thank you for all you do., Work at staying strong until next time,. I work hard to do the same as life is often difficult and parenting a struggle.


This post was not inspired by this WordPress Daily Prompt  But does relate to it. The New School:You get to redesign school as we know it from the ground up. Will you do away with reading, writing, and arithmetic? What skills and knowledge will your school focus on imparting to young minds?

Well obviously, I would want failure to be treated as something that is a part of life and kids allowed to fail and taught how to deal with it. That means teaching my Emotional Fitness Exercises through out all grades along with music, art, cooking, and self-defense (see Peace Dojos International).

I like the mastery approach to teaching with the mission being to teach all children to love learning. In addition to the above I would want in the first grades to emphasize teaching  children to read and then to write  and of course math has to fit in there somewhere. Any child struggling to master these skills would be tested for a learning disability.  That might be a good idea of all children. Children, parents and teachers should also be attuned to learning styles and Gardiner’s Types of Intelligence. 


These links are for those not familiar with Emotional Intelligence or the idea of Emotional Fitness.

Easy Emotional Fitness Exercises (www.emotionalfitnesstraining.com
The five components of Emotional Intelligence (www.sonoma.edu)Emotional Intelligence (en.wikipedia.org)
An Emotional Fitness Program for Parents(amazon.com)


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