How to Help Your Child Develop Failure-Coping Skills

No matter how much you prepare a child for an experi­ence, and no matter how many times your child may have done something correctly in the past, your child is going to have times when he or she fails.

  • He’s going to miss the basket at the buzzer, and his team will lose by a point.
  • She’s not going to be among those named as a top-ten finalist.
  • He’s going to score fewer points than anticipated on the exam.
  • She’s going to trip on stage.

Failures are a part of life. Teaching your child how to handle failure is one of the best lessons you can give. To do this effectively you must separate your child’s failed performance from your child’s success at being your son or daughter.

Depressed Child

Children fail at things they try to do. Don’t just say to your child, “Better luck next time.” Instead, say, “I’m proud of you for what you did. You had the courage to get up in front of a group of people. You had the desire to do that project and do your best. I’m proud of that.”

What about those instances when your child tries and fails at something because he or she hadn’t practiced and wasn’t prepared as well as he or she could have been?

You can use the incident to talk about what can be done in the future to avoid such a disappointment. Talk to your child as if you are in a debriefing session.

Above all, separate the idea that your child “failed” from any notion that your child is a “failure.”

Be especially alert for those moments when your child says, “I just don’t understand this subject” or “I just can’t seem to get the right answers to these prob­lems.” Your child may need some special tutoring or additional help. In some cases, your child may have a learning disability that has gone undetected.

Often when a child says, “I just can’t do it” it means, “I can’t do it as well as the next guy.” If this is the case, talk to your child about ways to improve past perfor­mance, talk in terms of your own child’s willingness to try, desire to succeed, and the effort he or she is willing to put into the activity.

A child who learns to view failure as a passing, tem­porary glitch in the “system,” and who believes that failures can be overcome, is a child who knows he or she is a “success just waiting to happen.”

Filed Under: Family & Relationships


About the Author: Roberta Southworth is a psychiatrist by profession. She likes to help out people by writing informative tips on how people can to solve their family and relationship issues. She is currently staying in Ireland. She has 5 years of couple counseling experience.

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