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Teaching Kids Not to Be Afraid of Failure

by Liza Blau

Whether it's a spelling bee, science test, baseball game or performing in the school play, your child's life is becoming more competitive. Many kids feel that if they aren't always number one, something bad might happen to them, according to Psychology Today. They might believe they'll disappoint their parents, lose popularity among their peers or even become failures as adults. While these children experience temporary relief when they succeed, it's only until the next failure, which is often right around the corner. Teaching your child to overcome his fear of failure can be the key to his future success.

Redefining Failure

Changing your child's perception of failure can help him see it not as something to fear, but as a valuable learning tool. You might explain that the road to success is a process and failures along the way are necessary for growth. Rather than immediately asking if he received an 'A' on his science test or won the baseball game, help shift his focus from the outcome to the process itself. You might say, "Great job! Did you learn anything new?" or "It's wonderful how much your pitch has improved." If he's upset that he failed, explain that if he learned from any mistakes and improved his skill, he's far from a failure. You might say, "The only real failure is when you stop trying."

Risking Failure

Some children experience so much embarrassment, guilt and shame when they fail, they stop taking risks to avoid those painful feelings. As a result, they miss out on opportunities to develop interests and pursue new activities because they're too afraid to challenge themselves. Learning to overcome fear of failure and take risks is vital for your child's emotional development. Risk-taking forces kids to push themselves past perceived limits and helps them gain confidence. Talk to your children about the importance of risking failure to achieve later success in life. You might say, "I know it's scary to take risks, but if you don't, you'll stagnate and hurt your chances for great achievement."

Allowing Failure

Many parents try to shield their child from failure, such as intervening when she receives a low grade at school. Instead of allowing their child to experience failure, they try to convince the teacher to give a higher grade. But if you try to manipulate the behavior of other adults so your child doesn't experience natural consequences, you're depriving her of valuable lessons, according to the website EmpoweringParents. Rather than using failure as an opportunity to improve herself, your kid won't bother because she knows Mom and Dad will always bail her out. Intervening also illuminates your own fear of failure, which serves to perpetuate her own. Instead, allow your child to fail so she can learn from her mistakes and improve herself, leading to experiencing failure as a friend rather than something to fear.

Fearing Your Own Failure

Parents are role models to their kids. Children observe how their parents deal with setbacks, failures and mistakes, and often model their behavior after them. If you constantly worry about failing, beat yourself up over minor mistakes and are overly critical of yourself, your child might develop those same perfectionist attitudes. One of the main traits that successful people share is how skillfully they manage failure and mistakes, according to Education.com. To show your children that you're far from perfect and accept failure as a natural part of life, share with them some of your own failures, how you managed to overcome them and any lessons you learned.

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