An MBA friend of mine, who I treat as my own sister, raised this very good question on, “how to teach children to deal with disappointments and failures”! Firstly, let’s remind ourselves that failure is also an option. An unavoidable option in everyone’s life; if not now, a little later. But it better be now than later. Let that ‘now’ lay a strong foundation for a successful, happy tomorrow.
This takes me back to late 2000’s when I was referred this book on parenting, ” Super Powers to Parents ” (by Stephen Briers), by my very good friend in England. Take home point from that book was addressing on how to use praise words for our children that makes them stay focussed by registering on what actually the praise is meant for. What could imply to them their exact value we carry in our hearts and minds.
Sharing an article that’s very relevant here: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/health/emotional-intelligence-the-psychology-of-better-parenting-1.899058
“I’m proud of your ‘achievement’ ” is a better suggested method of parenting than, ” I’m proud of you” as a token of appreciation. If you are using the latter, does that imply you are NOT proud of your children when they fail at achieving a medal in a competition? Are you trying to plant seeds of success is what will make you feel proud of them? But celebrating success or an achievement is important too. In this deadly competitive world, we need to train kids to give their best. But how they fare shouldn’t set a basis of them perceiving our love!
It’s our primary responsibility to teach our children to be empathetic and responsible. If we are upset with them, it’s not with them but with their behaviour or acts that might land them in trouble. We will always love and be proud of them. It’s the deeds we are aiming at, not them as individuals.
Let’s not make them victims of instant gratification that makes it hard for them to accept a failure. I have met kids who are champions at what all they do, find a way to blame others for them not faring well. High parental push, heavy expectations, and an urge to top absolutely at everything and anything make kids look for loop holes in the system, and start either a blame game or demean others who’re vulnerable. We need to coach them to accept the fact that life is only fair if it has little ups and downs. I also come across children who are scared to accept a defeat. They are only worth their constant successes, a deep rooted emotion installed by parents. These parents assume making winning as a habit will help them in long run. On the contrary, we are raising fed-up or anxious adults, who cannot be part of any team work.
Our children should never be coerced into fulfilling our unfulfilled dreams; the worst, training them into making another mini-us because we have been successful on our chosen paths! It’s ok for them to not be praised at every instance as said by Dr Taylor in this article:
We expect our children to top absolutely in everything that’s available around! We want their glasses to be replaced by contacts, their uneven teeth to be bound by their braces, their failures to appear as life failures, and more over, teach them that failure is ‘never’ an option! Let’s do what our children need, not what pleases others about them. Let’s not make them people pleasers for nothing. Happiness is the paramount feature at any stage of life. Life need not be impeccable. It’s only natural to be imperfect and learn from our mistakes.
Let’s not deliver and train kids as a show-off to the society! Let’s teach our children to take steps that may fail them at times, and that we are there to hold them. We are pleased, upset or proud of their deeds, but we always love them; no matter what! Let them trust us, let them know failing is a part of life. Every failure has a lesson to teach which successful may not have a chance to learn! It’s okay to fail.