I’ve been reading a number of articles lately that have to do with the positive outcomes of letting your child fail. Studies have shown that many children who are sheltered and shielded from disappointment and whose parents constantly step in to rescue them, end up being lethargic and underachieving later in life. It’s these same kids that grow up to be lazy with a lack of work ethic. In one article, an employer described this type of young adult as the one who expects a standing ovation if they show up for work.
So what does that mean for us parents? Our natural instinct is to catch our child when he falls. When they were babies we protected them from hitting their heads and falling out of the highchair. But then as toddlers while learning to walk…they needed to stumble and fall, get up, stumble and fall, over and over again before they learned to balance on their own and take those first steps. When, as parents, do we let go?
It’s true; kids today are more sheltered than ever. Parents are more involved, maybe too involved. The “everyone gets a trophy / nobody loses” culture is ever-present, and it may be hurting our kids in the long run. When kids take healthy risks, explore new things, and get out of their comfort zone they end up being more resilient later in life. Failing and then figuring out solutions on their own will help them mature and grow into confident, successful, and happy adults.
Children need time away from their parents, they need that opportunity to be independent and make decisions on their own. They need to stumble and fall, and figure out solutions. Learning from mistakes and recovering from failure is an important skill that our kids can learn. If we, as parents always swoop in to rescue them, our kids won’t learn those coping skills.
An experience away from home is invaluable. It might include going to sleep away camp, spending time with grandparents or close friends, joining a mission trip with the local church group, working on a community service project such as Habitat for Humanity, getting a part time job at the local grocery store, or volunteering at the local food pantry.
Whatever it may be, let’s stop rescuing our children. Let’s encourage them to take responsibility for their mistakes and not blame others. Let’s let them know that we love them unconditionally, whether they get an A in math or a C. Let’s praise them for their efforts and encourage them to try again if they don’t succeed the first time; after all, failure can motivate them to practice harder, study longer, and be creative by finding another solution to the problem!