Learning to lose

Running onto the ball

I love this post about letting our kids learn about failing – using the premise that we can learn from failure (or mistakes, or bad decisions or life events or whatever you want to call them) and be better for the experience.

I happen to agree with the writer that by continually propping our kids up and awarding them prizes just for being there, they aren’t learning very much.  A healthy self esteem is vital for a child’s development but part of my job as a parent is to help my kids manage the bad stuff along with the good and to help them understand that things are not always going to go their way – if I don’t help them manage that in childhood, how are they going to know what to do the first time something ‘fails’ for them in later life?

One of my favourite stories about my oldest son is from when he was in Year 5 at school and missed out being selected in the school soccer team.  It was a surprise to a lot of people that he didn’t get selected, and he was devastated on the afternoon the team list came out. However, he headed off to school the next day in reasonable spirits and I got 2 phone calls that next evening from parents of boys who did get picked in the team to tell me my son had spent the day individually congratulating those boys. I was extraordinarily proud of my son that day and told him that in 10 years no-one would have remembered that he’d been picked in the team but that he and all the other boys would always remember the way he had behaved when he wasn’t picked.

Of course I’d rather my kids never had to experience the lows in life. How good would it be if we never missed out on a job interview, never failed a driving test, never had a broken heart? Unfortunately life’s not like that and I think we are actually setting them up to fail harder by the false positive of turning everything they do into a win.



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