Want your children to succeed? Allow them to fail.

April 30, 2019 by Maggie Bonecutter

As a parent, I have to remind myself that I’m not raising children. I’m raising adults. So, what does it take to build a successful adult?

One factor parents often overlook – and perhaps unknowingly hinder – is resilience. Courtney Boyer, president of Stepping Stones Coaching and certified life coach, says that resilience, an individual’s ability to adapt to life’s events, is essential for future success.

“When children are given the opportunity to manage ‘kid-sized’ issues now, they are equipped with the confidence and subsequent resilience to tackle large-scale issues as adults,” Boyer, also a mom of three, said.

Boyer reports that difficulties and trauma often precede resiliency, so we need to allow our kiddos to face difficulties and hardships to help strengthen their armor. “Think back to when your child was learning to walk,” Boyer said. “If you intervened every time she tottered or fell down, would she have learned to walk? Eventually, but she wouldn’t have gained the confidence in knowing that she could do it on her own.”

No one enjoys seeing their kids struggle, to be sure. But when we step in with the intention of removing the obstacle our child is facing, we are doing an incredible disservice, Boyer added. Removing the obstacle remedies only the immediate problem – and also removes the opportunity to master skills for handling obstacles they’ll most assuredly encounter as adults.

So how do we create resilience and therefore strong, capable adults? Boyer offers these tips:

* Allow your child to respond to a difficulty or problem on his own, even if you don’t agree with how he chooses to deal with it. Concurrently, create space where your child can process his thoughts and feelings about the issue he is facing. Those feelings are real and need to be acknowledged.

* Encourage your child to take risks and celebrate failures. Know this: Failure is not the opposite of success. Failure means an attempt that simply didn’t work – this time. Maybe it will the next time or the thousandth time after that. If anything, failure helps children learn valuable problem-solving skills, further helping build resilience.

* Nudge your child to develop meaningful connections with others, thus facilitating empathy and opportunities to help others – additional builders of confidence and resilience.

All that said, encourage your child to work out playground squabbles – peacefully – on his own. Give your daughter the freedom to design and build her own crash-resistant container for the egg drop project and if it fails, celebrate that she discovered one way that doesn’t work and is on the path to the way that does. Resilient children – and subsequent resilient adults – are the products of trial and error, so let them try, err and eventually succeed.


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