5 Lessons All Children Should Learn About Failure

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Lessons kids should learn about failure

As the mother of two incredibly intelligent, beautiful and amazing daughters there are so many things that I want to teach them, so many things that I would just love to hand them on a silver platter and also so many experiences that I would like to spare them. There are some things that I hope they manage to avoid in life, but failure is not one of them. In fact, I think failure is necessary for growth and I know that some lessons can only be learned the hard way.

As I was thinking about what kind of a perspective I want to give my daughters on failure, it occurred to me to reach out to the amazing tribe of mothers I know and ask them what lessons about failure they are passing on to their children. Here are their thoughts and lessons learned that we can all pass on to our kids.

5 lessons about failure parents should teach their kids

1. Only when we refuse to try do we really fail. My wonderful friend Vanessa Martinez Bell of the inspiring blog De Su Mama shared this bit of truth with me, “If I can teach my kids one thing about failure, it’s this: do it! Failure, like success, is subjective… Only you can define its meaning for yourself. So while I hold high expectations for them, I remind my children that the biggest failure in life is not ever trying. Only when we refuse to try do we really fail.”

2. Practice makes progress! My friend and favorite glitter goddess Kathy Cano-Murillo of Crafty Chica fame said, “I always tell my kids that no one is perfect enough to always succeed on the first try. You have to do your best and if and when you fail, look and see what you can learn from the experience to increase your chances next time. If you want something bad enough, you won’t give up, you have to keep trying. Practice makes progress! And oh, it will feel so wonderful when you do succeed! You will know you earned it! I also tell them to look at it like a movie, the underdog – the one people laugh at or underestimate – they end up rising, saving the day, and that makes for such an empowering story! Embrace your inner underdog.”

3. Failure is an opportunity to learn and grow. This advice comes from my prima Monica Viniegra Gastelum, whom I adore and admire and has even gone into business with her daughter Paola, “OMG, this is the one thing I want her to understand—failure means you are trying —failing a thousand times means you are continuously trying. Especially since she’s an artist, I want her to have a clear idea of what failure is. Not self imposed ideas about failure but an opportunity to learn and grow.”

4. You are not defined by failure, but by your ability to bounce back from it. Jeannette Kaplun (who founded this blog, as you probably know by now) has a message about failure that really resonates with me and I hope that all parents teach their children that, “One mistake, one failure, might define a certain moment in your life. But it does not define you as a person. Each time you fall it will force you to find new ways to get up. This will make you stronger, more resilient and in the end, prouder of yourself. It is not success that will define you, but rather your ability to make the most out of impossible situations and learn from them to be quicker at bouncing back.”

5. There is no shame in trying and failing. This is the lesson that I personally want to teach my children. I want them to try for the things they want in life even if they don’t always succeed in getting them. I want them to know that there is no shame in trying. Can you imagine if no one ever tried anything new because they were afraid of failing? We would have no great athletes or innovators or visionaries. I also want them to know that many times the road to success is paved with failures so fail bravely and keep moving forward.

What do you want to teach your children about failure?

Image via edwardmusiak/Flickr

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