by Dr. Kim Grengs, Parent Coach
Letting your child fail is so difficult… but so healthy for everyone!
It never gets easy to watch or let your child fail. From when they are just starting to crawl and they literally fall on their face to when they are a junior in high school and cannot figure math out. Or have to sit out in a dance competition… lots of tears. Letting your child fail is so difficult.
As a parent I know how stressful it is teaching your child how to ride a bike- first with training wheels and then without training wheels. Going from showing them how to actually use the pedals with training wheels to holding on as long as possible to them when they are without training wheels.
School stress is an entirely different level. When they get into the secondary grades it is so much harder to help them with their homework. They’re sitting at the kitchen counter taking a math quiz for the third time because they cannot get 75%. As the parent, I felt helpless. So I pretty much sat there and looked up how to solve the problems while he was trying to figure them out. Finally he said that I was causing more stress by trying to help him. It’s so difficult.
Holding on and wanting to save them from that feeling of failure is what I did and still do… but not as often. Why do I want to save my children from failure? Maybe it’s because I feel like if I protect them they will be more confident… not true. By protecting them I’m not building self-confidence. I’m teaching them that failing is a bad thing and to be ashamed of failing.
As a parent when I’m offering to help or control the situation I’m telling them I do not have confidence in their ability. I’m giving them the impression that I’m better than they are. Yes I believe as parents we are more wise than our children. Wisdom comes from experience and living life. They need to experience life and that involves having to do things more than one time to learn it.
Letting them fail
It happened again, trying to save my son from failure just caused more stress for the entire family. When I let him do it on his own and support him by getting out of his way, he didn’t give up. Instead he continued to try over and over again. He persevered on his own. He was proud of his accomplishments. His entire demeanor had changed.. body language and inner self.
Lesson learned again. It is healthy to let your child fail. Trust me the harder they fall the stronger they get up. As a result they are ready for the next challenge. And it feels good for you, as their mom, to have trusted them to figure it out. Trust me, I am still learning, but am getting better at letting go. Failure is a step in the right direction.