The batting average. Sitting on the bench. Not receiving the perfect score on a test. Not meeting expectations on a project. The rejection letter to our college of choice. The rejection letter after an interview. To many students, these scenarios are unfamiliar. To some, these situations can be considered failures.

Failure. A word most of us cringe at and try to avoid. For a majority of my life, I stayed in my comfort zone, avoiding failure. Who wants to fail? Normally, I would believe many of us are not actively seeking to fail. However, I have come to realize that failure is an integral part of the learning/growing process. As a parent, I have failed over and over and over.

Failure Presents Opportunities for Learning

Failure is hard to teach. It’s hard to encourage students. It’s hard for our kids to understand that it’s okay to fail.

Everyday, I get to teach, not only my kids but also students, that failure is okay. I actually encourage failure. Why? This is where learning takes place. This is where creativity is developed. This is where courage is developed. We make mistakes, we go back to square one, we problem solve and we critically think. I encourage failure because it’s an attempt at learning, and it’s never the last attempt at learning.

Yet as a parent, it’s hard to watch your kids struggle. It’s hard to watch your kids fail. Sometimes, all I want to do it jump up, fix the issue and protect my kids.

I remind myself: “Stop. You cannot always come to their rescue. Let them fail. Let them learn.”

It’s important to realize that all of our kids are going to have the “greatest moment ever”. There is no greater feeling for a parent to witness as our kids go through these moments. However, they’re also going to have those moments of adversity. They’re going to be met with challenges.

It’s within both those “greatest moments ever” and moments of adversity where our kids’ stories lie. Without challenges, there would never be a good story to tell.

Why Should We Encourage Failure?

Failure develops:

  • Problem-solving and critical thinking skills
  • Resiliency
  • Confidence
  • Courage

Failure encourages:

  • A growth mindset
  • Adventure
  • Stretching comfort zones

How Do We Encourage Our Kids When They Have Failed?

  • We love them
  • We extend them grace
  • We recognize their feelings of disappointment and let them know these feelings are alright
  • We help them navigate through the failed process
  • We encourage them to try it again
  • We encourage them to keep working hard

I also believe we should model failure. How many of us have failed in the last 24 hours, last week or last month and have discussed it with our children? These moments present a great opportunity to discuss how to be resilient when faced with challenges. Have discussions with children on what went well or didn’t go well throughout the process.

Most importantly, we must get our kids to understand failure is not the end. Even though it may be unfamiliar to some kids, learning to handle failure is a significant part of the growing and learning process.

Shelly Mowinkel

Shelly Mowinkel

K-12 & Teens

My husband and I have three kids. Our oldest is a freshman in high school, and our youngest is in second grade. Most days, I feel like we are a “tag-team chauffeuring” service, yet I wouldn’t have our life any other way. Not only I am a business/technology teacher at Milford, I am also the district technology integration specialist. I love teaching because I get the opportunity to make those around me better. My hope is that, through my blogging, I am able to inspire, encourage, and share with you my adventures of being a wife, mother, and professional.

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