We, as parents, wish to shelter our children such that no harm comes their way. We can’t stand to see our children left distraught after facing a major setback. It’s almost instinctive that we try to remove all hurdles from their path. But have you ever wondered that it might be doing them more harm than good? Failure is an important learning tool for your child, it makes them emotionally stronger and wiser. Here are some interesting insights by Saakshi Singla, Gender equality child & family counselor, Parenting & relationship repair coach; on how to support your child when they face failure in life.
Be their support system
Talk to them as an ally
Parents need to be mindful of how they talk to their children after they have failed at something or made a mistake. They are already going through a lot. The Parenting & relationship repair coach says, “Check if you are talking as an ally or an accuser with them.” She adds to avoid using terms like “I told you so”.
Reaffirm your child’s self-worth
Parental support and unconditional love are very important in a child’s life, especially during times of failure or difficulties. By providing unconditional love, parents can help their children build a strong sense of self-worth, which enables them to navigate challenges.
“When we give unconditional love, it helps our children feel that they are loved in spite of their mistakes. This, in turn, makes them less likely to internalize their ‘failures’ as part of their identity, and more likely to bounce back from mistakes, learn from them, and make corrections,” says Saakshi Singla.
Connect winning with effort, not results
In today’s competitive landscape, children require consistent encouragement, both within their educational endeavors and other extracurricular activities they participate in. The expert highlights the importance of embodying a parenting approach that transcends the sole emphasis on achievement. She says, “Make sure you connect winning with effort, not results,” adding, “It’s our responsibility as parents to love and value our kids just as they are, not because of what they do.”
The expert emphasizes that we, as parents, need to redefine success by separating it from achievements. “Make sure your children don’t feel the pressure of being accepted or liked only when they are winning or doing well. Tell them often that they are loved for being who they are, not for the achievements they bring forth.”
Don’t compare with others; instead, compete with self
Focusing on personal growth over comparison is a path to success. Embrace self-improvement as a journey, setting goals that challenge your past self. This mindset fosters resilience, innovation, and a sense of fulfillment. Comparing yourself to others breeds negativity, while competing with yourself cultivates progress and contentment on your unique path. Children should especially focus on imbibing this approach in life, as comparing themselves with others, will only lead to a decrease in their self-esteem.
Saakshi Singla says, “Part of developing healthy competition is teaching children that their most important competitor is themselves. Self-competition can make tolerating both losing and winning a bit easier, too.”
Make children strong and wise
So, coming to the most important question, should we let children resolve their problems on their own to teach them, or should parents solve it for them?
The role of parental guidance is undoubtedly crucial in a child’s development, but parents should not always provide ready-made solutions. Instead, children should be allowed to grapple with problems and find solutions, even if it means experiencing some struggles. The challenges and difficulties they face are seen as opportunities for growth and learning, ultimately making them more resilient and equipping them with important life skills.
“In the long run, this is what prepares them for life. As children deal with problems, they will learn to navigate life independently of us, which is also the ultimate parenting goal,” the expert says. She adds that the perspectives they gain in this process will teach them sympathy for others, an understanding of how the world works, and how to get along with others.
Advice that you can use with your kids to help them cope with difficult situations
This does not mean that one leaves their child on their own to deal with problems. Sometimes the burden of the problem is so great that instead of pushing a child to wisdom, it will crush them. There is a fine line between guiding a child and straight out bailing them out of each circumstance. As parents, we need to be aware of that.
Numerous professionals have offered advice that you can use with your kids to help them cope with difficult situations:
- Give the problem a name and try everything in your power to remove your child from such a situation. Some techniques you can try include seeking professional help, journaling, and apologizing.
- Stop dwelling on failure. If you keep thinking or talking about the same incident over and over again, you are unlikely to change the end result. Give your child a break and start with a fresh perspective.
- Help your kids understand that some things are beyond their control, but they can control how they react to situations. Encourage them to focus on things they can influence and let go of things they can’t.
- Introduce them to mindfulness techniques or deep breathing exercises to help manage stress and anxiety and reduce the overwhelming feeling
- During tough times, keeping a consistent routine can provide stability and a sense of normalcy. Stick to regular meal times, sleep schedules, and daily activities as much as possible.