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Teach Kids to Learn from Failure

How to teach kids to learn from failure

An article by a friend “Bring on the failure” set me thinking on the Indian parent’s attitude towards failure of their kids. We have been taught, as we grew up, that it is important to do well; very well in fact, and that it is not fashionable to fail ( to be read as achieving a below expected outcome)! That value is firmly entrenched in many of us, which has made us risk averse and afraid to experiment. I must say that a part of this conservatism has also got to do with the dearth of opportunities – be it in professional colleges or later when we started our careers. Thus, a perfect report card, an impeccable resume, was the need of the hour.

The scenario in India today presents a total contrast – the opportunity landscape has exploded, literally, compared to the time I completed high school and college. Exposure has also become far more global. We have learned through our professional “cross border” interactions that it is alright to fail, provided you infer what went wrong and move on to try again. We have learned that other societies do not frown as much on failure. Now, what are we doing with this learning? How are we equipping our kids to deal with failure? Are we, when push comes to shove, switching back to the “play safe and don’t be sorry” mode or are we encouraging our children to take calculated risks? Are we telling our children – it is ok to make mistakes, it is ok if you do not get the top grade all the time, it is alright if you do not get selected for the school team in a sport. But, do your best. Figure out what went wrong the earlier time and make another attempt.

Also Read : Teach your Kids How to Handle Money

We have to be honest and think about how our upbringing and innermost attitudes play out in “crunch” situations, especially with our children. It is a tough thing to consciously adopt practices we believe stood us in good stead, while at the same time, adapting our style of parenting to today’s context. Inculcating the right attitude towards failure in our kids falls in the latter category. What do you think?

Also Read : Teaching Kids to Think Creatively


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Sudha Kumar is a marketing professional and runs a marketing services firm, Prayag Consulting. She has made her foray into publishing through ParentEdge. Over the last two decades, she has learnt a thing or two about being a working mom. That said, her views on parenting continue to evolve, as she learns from her experiences, reading, and now, from her children!

3 thoughts on “Teach Kids to Learn from Failure

  1. Aparajita Bose

    Well….I guess the reaction towards the end result of efforts (win or loss) comes from that of the parents, more from the involved parent.
    As a child, I was always afraid I’d lose the top rank to somebody else in my class, and that kept me confined to books for most of my free time. I somehow knew the “topper” tag would get me admiration of my class, attention from my teachers and applause from my neighbours. I craved for the rare smile on my father’s face as much as I wanted to see my mother’s beaming countenance, a silent pride for being the “best student’s” mother. And I knew the only way I would get to see this was to bag the first prize at the end of the academic year.
    While this helped me stay with my books for good many hours, it robbed me of outdoor games time to an extent quite often. My social skills too did not get a healthy chance to grow, so much so that I found it difficult to feel at home with my engineering batchmates (I was then far away from home), because I preferred to “hang out” with books instead of friends!
    Looking back, I feel this unhealthy tendency to score well, as far as academics was concerned, did not allow me enough time to develop life skills. To know well in advance that it’s OK to lose the top positions to others sometimes, it’s OK to spend much more time on extra-curricular activities even if it means not-so-high score as one wanted, it’s NOT OK to find shelter in books because there’s nothing common to discuss with friends, it’s NOT OK to feel depressed for long because one has not done well in a test or exam.
    I hope I remember this and don’t pester my children to spend too much time on studies!


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