Why I want my kids to fail

Why I want my kids to fail

I want my kids to fail. It’s a weird thing to say. It’s hard to put in practice. It’s difficult to talk about. But in the end, it’s true. Why? Well, funny you ask. Just as most parents, it’s so that they won’t have to make the mistakes I made. Which means that I want them to fail so they don’t fail at what I have been failing at. Which means I don’t want them to fail at all. Are you still with me?

Let me explain.

When I was young, life came pretty easy. At four I decided I wanted to ride a bike and after an afternoon of practicing, I raced down the bicycle lane. At six, I got tired of having to wait being read to and I ask my grandma to teach me how to read. Basically, my entire childhood I was pretty quick at being good at anything with little effort. Please bare with me, I’m not trying to brag here. Because that is my biggest failure.

I never learnt how to fail. I never learnt dissappointment. I never learnt what it is like to work your ass off to achieve something. I never learnt to pick myself up and try again. And again. And again.

Today, I value the freedom to fail over the triumph of succes. And I see how important it is for my kids to experience failure. Junior, my eldest son was tested as ‘expectionally gifted’ and because of it, he went to secondary school at 11 years old. Even more than me, he’s not used to failing. His mind works so fast that, when he made a mistake, he can’t back track his process of thinking and explain where it went wrong. It stops him from trying, dismissing it as stupid and boring. My toddler Mini gets so frustrated at drawing, simple because his hands can’t replicate the image he has in mind.

So I try. I try so hard to let them fail and learn it’s part of the process. I try to instill that growing mindset that helps them learn from their mistakes and helps them to improve their action plan. So I don’t help my eldest son with his school papers or presentations. And I stop judging my toddler’s drawings.

Instead, I check whether Junior has completed every step in finishing his paper. I focus on implementing ‘wrong lines’ in the drawing or offering alternatives for his subject when drawing with my toddler. I keep myself I mind it is about the journey, not the destination when it comes to learning.

And I’m learning too. Because it is hard, you know. It is hard not to judge a bad grade, but focus on learning points. It is hard to emphasize the process instead of the result. It is hard not to judge my kid for a repetitive mistake. But I’ll keep at it. I promise. Because in the end, learning how to fail breeds success.

Let’s have another coffee and listen to my favorite song by Aaliyah.

Happy weekend!

xoxo – Irene

I wrote this post to a recurring prompt by Part-time Monster called Weekend Coffee Share. Each weekend, bloggers publish posts about what they’d say to their readers if they were sitting down together over a cup of coffee. Most posts start with ‘If we were having coffee’, although I’ve chosen to just write a personal, direct post. 

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10 thoughts on “Why I want my kids to fail

  1. I totally understand what you mean, I feel the same about my daughter. I see so many parents these days that won’t let their kids fail, they don’t have the opportunity to fail, and they even shout at the school if they fail at school, instead of teaching them valuable lessons about failing, and getting up and trying again, over and over again.

  2. Couldn’t agree more – everyone is going to fail at some point, so the sooner one learns to cope with it (and learn from it) the better. Great song, btw.

  3. I agree with you. Everyone needs to learn how to pick themselves back up when life doesn’t go according to plan. It teaches us resilence and other important coping skills.

    1. I don’t know, I think it’s how you talk about mistakes. Edison supposedly tried 99 times before succeeding and actually needed to fail so many times in order for him to succeed. Encouraging small steps so success isn’t too far away should do the tricks for the kids!

  4. Such a pleasure to meet you through the Weekend Coffee Share. My daughter is gifted and attending what we call Opportunity School in Australia where they sit an entrance test. She is 10. She has a very fast brain, which sounds like your boys. Picks things up very quickly and isn’t used to struggling, although she had had her battles with the violin and has finally made it over that beginner’s hump which has ended her previous attempts. The violin is a very equalizing instrument. I’ve been learning for 4 years, since she first took it up and she’ll catch me up soon but that’s fine. I am finding with her the need to encourage her to slow down, add detail and expand her answers. I personally need to be more succinct.
    I’ve been writing a series of letters to dead poets for the A-Z Challenge whre I’m revisiting poets who inspired me over the years and there’s quite a strong parenting thread throughout the posts I think you’ll like. I am interested in reading more of your posts.
    Have you have a great week and thanks for coffee!
    xx Rowena

    1. Thanks Rowena! Unfortunately, my eldest doesn’t like music so no equalizing through violin lessons! Building Lego bionicles is his way of slowing his mind down en focus on details.

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