Category Archives: Values

The Gift of Failure

The Gift of Failure

Parenthood sparks a powerful, instinctive drive to protect. But, in reality, we do our kids a disservice when we do not allow them the space and opportunity to make decisions with the potential outcome of failure. Like Clark Kent, we are transformed from mild-mannered, everyday people into Authority Figures, Responsible Parties…Tooth Fairies.

Without a second thought we boldly stand between our little darlings and the slings and arrows of the world; the ferocity of our love makes it almost impossible to do anything less.

But the increasing challenges associated with helicopter parenting and launching failing young adults seems to indicate that our approach, while well-intentioned, isn’t the most beneficial.

We place them at a disadvantage when they don’t have the chance to practice with smaller decisions before facing an environment, like college, that requires them to make bigger ones.

It’s a bit like Michael Phelps preparing for the Olympics by staying in bed and saving his strength. Good decision making takes practice and practice has to allow space for both success and failure. It’s not a question of blithely allowing our kids to come to harm; it’s a matter of looking for opportunities to engage kids in appropriate levels of decision making at every stage of their life.

It won’t always go well, but even poor decisions can be beneficial. Helping kids recover gracefully when things don’t go as planned fosters resilience and helps them set healthy expectations for the future. It gives parents the opportunity to demonstrate to our kids’ that their value isn’t contingent on their performance.

Psychologist Brene Brown put it beautifully when she said,

There is no innovation and creativity without failure. Period.” 

You can help your kids make the most of even poor decisions by following a few basic tenets:

  • Empathize even if you disagreed with their decision. You can agree about how crummy it feels to have things go badly as well as validate their initiative.
  • Ask a LOT of open ended questions about how they thought it went and why; their processing of the experience is a lot more valuable than creating an itemized list of errors.
  • Be transparent; sharing your thoughts through stories about your own experiences fosters credibility and encourages openness.

It’s not easy to step back and allow our kids to space make decisions and the potential to fail, but if fosters a resilience and a courage in our kids that will serve them well throughout their lives.

Jill Howgate
jhowgate@growcounseling.com

The Promise of the Holiday Season

The Promise of the Holiday Season

In a world consumed with commercialism, it can be easy to lose sight of what the holiday season is really about. We tend to focus on superficial aspects of life and then fall hard when those things crumble before our eyes. Delicious food, presents, and lots of laughs are part of the holiday season, but…

Cultivating Gratitude in Your Kids

Cultivating Gratitude in Your Kids

Many of us today have so much that it can be easy to take it for granted. Especially for children, whose developmental level lends itself to entitlement, it can be hard to maintain a sense of gratitude for the things they have rather than dissatisfaction over the things they don’t. The holidays are often a time…

Cultivating Gratitude in Children

Cultivating Gratitude in Children

As the holidays approach, one of the greatest gifts you can give your kids is to strategically develop their sense of gratitude. Rather than having the focus be on presents or parties, you have an opportunity to help them turn their attention to others and to cultivate a sense of gratitude. Studies have shown that…

How to Parent with the Magic 5:1 Ratio

How to Parent with the Magic 5:1 Ratio

If you’re a parent, these lines are all too familiar. “Hurry and eat your breakfast, or you’ll be late for school. Stop teasing your sister. Do your homework. Clean your room. I’m taking away that NERF gun if you hit you brother one more time. Are you listening to me?!” Annoyances and frustrations are an…

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