Imagine how your life might be different if you celebrated all the failures of your life.
As adults we have the gift of experience. What do I mean? I we can look back at all the failures in our life, and see where they took us. I know that I have times in my life where I failed and gave up. Almost all of those times have led to regret. Regret that I didn’t push myself harder and regret that I gave up. Looking back also allows us to know that failing isn’t the end of the road. When I failed and didn’t give up it turned out ok. It wasn’t the end of the world.
As parents what do we often try to do? We try to protect our kids from failure. As parents it is heart breaking to watch our children fail. But isn’t it us that teaches them that failure is bad? I mean they are born failing. When they get on their knees and try to crawl, only to fall on their face. When they try to walk and fall time and time again. They don’t stop trying. No they are born with the instinct to keep trying. Ironic that parents have an equally strong instinct to protect.
I’ve had a hard time with this instinct. Sometimes I feel like they have been dealt so many other hard life lessons, that failure seemed not fair. I’ve had to let that go. Had to remind myself that my job is to prepare them to be adults, and so we’ve been learning together how to let them fail. Failure is hard. It’s easy to get caught up in the “event” and not see what the outcome is. I mean, they don’t have the benefit of years. They don’t remember falling down a hundred times to learn to walk, or all the bumps and bruises they had as toddlers. Those things are long forgotten. They only remember all the times we protected them from failing.
So what does celebrating failure look like? It’s about celebrating the outcome. Making sure that we go full circle with our kids. We let them fail, we help guide them through their response to that failure, and we make sure we reflect with them on the outcome. Kids know all about reflecting. Their teachers are teaching them that in school. It’s a concept we can get onboard with. Instead of yelling at a kid for failing a test, talk about why they failed the test. What could be done different next time? Don’t ground the kid for failing the test, but ground them for not doing homework for a week. But first make sure that there wasn’t a reason they didn’t do that homework. Maybe they are lost and need help. Need a tutor. Ask questions.
When failure is a result of bad or inappropriate decisions absolutely enforce consequences. What I’m saying is hold our kids accountable for their ACTIONS and not the CONSEQUENCES of those actions. Teach our kids to act responsibly to produce better outcomes. Make sure kids understand the cause and effect between their actions and the outcomes those actions produce. Remind yourself that they don’t have the gift of experience.
I think that if we did this more we would raise kids/teenagers that would grow up not afraid of failure, but with a better understanding of the importance of their actions. I am the worlds worst procrastinator. Time and time again I regret procrastinating, but as an adult I’ve learned just how far I can push my procrastination and still get done what I need. My kids inherited my procrastination gene, but they don’t have the experience to have learned where the line of no return is. Normally I enforce the punishment, raise my voice, take away the cell phone, do all of these things to prevent the failure. I just discovered that I was in a constant circle of saving, and not teaching. So I recently choose to let them push the line and fail, and I’m a better parent for it today then I was last week.