I’m Here to Promote Failure.

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Everyone wants their kid to do well.Failed.

I get it.

This is probably an instinct that goes all the way back to cavemen.  I can just imagine how proud the cave parents must have been when little cavekid, jr. came back from a hunt where he had captured the biggest rabbit.

So proud.

Parents live for their children’s successes.

Now, instead of rabbits, it’s games.  The more the better.

Travel this.  Club that.  All Stars.  Select teams.

The farther away a team is the better it must be.  Bonus points if your child plays out-of-state.

Double-bonus points if they play with older kids.

I think this is great, but we have forgotten half of the process.

Parents should also live for their child’s failures.

This may sound terrible, but it’s true.

Our children have to learn not to touch a hot stove.  Sometimes they learn this lesson best immediately after they touch a hot stove.

There are lessons to be learned in striking out, making an error, fumbling, hitting a ball out-of-bounds, and losing.

Failing has gotten a bad rap.

Our society wants to take it completely out of the equation.  We seem to have a need to protect our kids from the awful feeling of finishing second.

We might do this because we no longer have to protect our children from wild animals or any of the other unspeakable dangers cave people experienced.

We seem to believe if our kids always succeed, they will always succeed.

The truth is, if we want our children to be successful, they have to know how to fail and how to respond to failure.

Everyone is going to get knocked down sooner or later.  My fear is too many of today’s kids won’t know how to get up.

I continually see parents who are willing to do anything to make sure their child doesn’t fail.

They will spend any amount of money.  Put them on any team.  Drive them any distance.

Yell at any adult who doesn’t put their child on a pedestal and give them a trophy.

Make untold sacrifices just so their son or daughter can experience success.

And the truth is the best way for them to experience this elusive feeling of success is not more, it’s less.

Let them fail.  They will live.

Now, they won’t thank us for this.  In fact, as parents we may have to be the bad guy.

At least for awhile.

But one day, they will be happy their parents let them fail.

Just not today.

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8 Responses to “I’m Here to Promote Failure.”


  1. Dave Grant
    on Oct 16th, 2013
    @ 2:57 pm

    This is why when my 3-year old wants to be the first downstairs in the morning, I sometimes push him aside and yell, “Not today, sucker!!”. I’m teaching him……


  2. J Borst
    on Oct 29th, 2013
    @ 6:03 pm

    I could not agree more, I learned more from failing than I did winning, I learned to try harder, practice more, built desire and passion for something. What happens when they go for a job interview that their daddy doesn’t own or asking someone out on a date, we need to fail to be better.


  3. Jay Childs
    on Nov 9th, 2013
    @ 1:04 pm

    Hi, Mike! It’s been a while, but I’m back.

    In response to this post, I am sure I have typed this before, since “failure” or the lone “B” on an otherwise straight “A” report card is a perennial issue, usually pressed by parents.

    Mom: I just want my little girl to be happy.

    Mr. Childs: I want your little girl to be happy when she turns 30.


  4. Jodi Murphy
    on Dec 5th, 2013
    @ 10:58 am

    Failing is sometimes more important than winning! Failing teaches you how to bounce back from disappointment. It shows you how strong you are mentally; can you shake it off or do you let it totally unnerve you? Better to lose a sports game and learn how to handle it with grace than lose something much more important and not know how to manage it.


  5. Jeff Underhill
    on Dec 25th, 2013
    @ 11:01 pm

    Failure is something my students and I hold up – along with struggle – as a positive sign of working toward mastery (which we will never gain), of improving each day. Each of these young 10-year-olds struggles with the idea of positive failure and struggle to begin, especially in their typically-Korean home culture mindset. With the advent of the positive psychology discipline, life has become rich and empowered for so many teachers and students, and I am grateful for your leadership in suggesting that failure is positive, that it means we’re growing! Of the stakeholders in education, the group most aligned against failure may well be the parents. Let us change this mindset!


  6. Lance
    on Jan 22nd, 2014
    @ 1:26 am

    I believe in this “You learn from your failures.” One shouldn’t suppress a person because he failed, instead you should appreciate his efforts and encourage him for the future. Surely, he will never fail again where he failed before.


  7. Nicole
    on Apr 4th, 2014
    @ 9:56 am

    I am a preservice teacher and found this extremely insightful. I completely agree with the fact that we need to be able to utilize our failures and learn from them! Through a student perspective I find that in the classroom we’re in an environment where there isn’t much allowance for failures and a major penalty against those who do fail. So from an educator’s perspective how do you think we can create an allowance for possible student failures? Even more importantly, how do you think we can implement the act of a student’s failure into a meaningful learning opportunity?


  8. Colleen
    on Feb 25th, 2016
    @ 10:14 am

    So true. Failing is just as important as succeeding because it equips children with important tools like coping and determination. Glad to see so many people agree with this philosophy!

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