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Teach Your Children To Accept Failures

by on 26/04/2013 2679

Failure is the mother of success; however, this is only true when we are able to accept failure as parts of our life and face it with resilience. More often than not, it’s easier said than done.

Is it right for us to always deliberately lose to our children while playing games with them? Yeah, it is perfectly right for us to do it initially when we try to pique their interest for the intended games; but it doesn’t serve any purpose anymore when it gives ways to their reluctance to accept failure.


“I don’t think you played it fair!”

“Why can you beat me? I don’t want to play it anymore!”

Above are some of the common reactions shown by sore losers. Probably this attitude may appear to be rather normal to most of us, and sometimes we might say “Give them a break. They are too young to learn what failure is all about.” As a matter of fact, if this attitude is left unhandled, the harm can be imminent. One of the most direct implications is that they will be inclined to repeat the same behavior when they interact with their peers. Will others still give in to them? Will others still spare their feelings when they merely cares about winning for themselves? Most of the time, they will keep themselves away from social life and eventually become socially rejected.


For this, it is of utmost importance to supplement our child with “Vitamin R” (“R” stands for RESILIENCE). Resilience is ability for one to bounce back from challenges, setbacks, or difficult times. As a matter of fact, resilient individuals will be able to deal effectively with stress and hardships. Some of the distinctive attributes in a resilient child are such as:

  • Hopeful and self-appreciative
  • Feels special and appreciated by others.
  • Always sets realistic expectations towards themselves.
  • Defines hardships and obstacles as learning experiences; attempts to solve problems and make decisions.
  • Acknowledges his strengths and weaknesses.
  • Develops competent interpersonal skills.
  • Focuses on the aspects of life over which he can have control, instead of those over which he has little influence.


Now, let’s see some of the helpful tips on how to help building up resilience in child:


1. Be empathetic to foster caring relationships

“I have two young children who are addicted to badminton. Due to my heavy workload, I don’t really spend time playing with them, but I really want to spare some time together with them. I can see that they had been feeling left out. They told me they really missed the moments we played together. So, for the past two months, I managed my work and spent 20 minutes playing with them every 3 days. Though it wasn’t a long time, they felt so much happier, and I have got fewer complaints from them nowadays. Sincerely I feel that understanding children’s needs - as simple as listening to them can make wonders to our relationship.”

 Enlightened Parent


A close-knitted, caring relationship serves as a strong mental pillar for children. Let’s put it in simpler way, what is the moment we can give our best shots, or survived through our hard times? Of course it’s when we feel loved, accepted and understood.

Apart from listening to children and engaging ourselves in activities with them, non-verbal communication counts a lot as well. Giving them hugs and smiles when they need attention from us will instill a sense of security in them.

Besides, putting ourselves in the shoes of children and seeing things from their point of view will make them feel that their needs are acknowledged. However, it doesn’t imply that we should do their biddings; instead, we should make it point to help them to understand the feelings of others as well. This will set the stage for them to develop empathy and to foster caring relationship with others. 


2. Be positive as role models

“I used to be a workaholic who couldn’t afford to slow down my pace. Therefore, I never realized how much pressure I exerted on my daughter until there was a time she came back with tears after losing in an inter-school ping pong contest. She said that she felt so useless for not winning any prize. I was taken aback by her reaction and from that time onwards, I decided to shift my focus to her and guide her. Seeing my daughter to have more realistic expectation towards her work, I know I have made a right choice for myself and her!”

Repentant Parent


Children tend to imitate what adults do and say. So, we can set ourselves as role model to influence them. For example, we can teach them that mistakes are the good opportunities to learn by handling some real-life difficult situations with calmness. We can educate them what to do when things don’t go our way. Simple actions such as taking deep breaths, blowing imaginary bubbles, and sharing their emotions with others will help them to express their emotions in healthy ways. Besides, we have to show them how to make the best out of the resources available-approach parents, teachers, or community-in order to find solutions, as everyone needs help sometimes, too.


3. Be participative in developing self-regulation, responsibility and positive thinking skills

“I believe every parent has unfavorable experience in dealing with the misbehaviors of children. My 6-year-old son is no exception. I always got the complaints from his kindergarten teacher that he always ran away when he faced difficulties in doing homework. So, I taught him to do deep breathing and blow imaginary bubbles. Whenever he manages to complete a difficult task, I’ll praise him “You are doing great! I’m proud of you!” Now he can better control himself and starts to have more confidence. Most of the time, words of encouragement are all what they need!”

-   Hopeful Parent


Self-regulation is prerequisite for resilience to come in place. It is how we manage our thoughts, emotions, and actions so that we are not overcome by difficult situations. For this, we need to make sure they have enough sleep and eat healthy food, so that they will enough energy to deal with extra stress. Besides the ideas from the hopeful parent, we can help children to visualize pleasant image or experience. For example, we can help them to focus on the pleasant scene of getting 100 marks in their spelling tests if they manage to do their revisions. So, do practices with them for several times, and prompt them to keep on trying even when it’s hard and frustrating. If they still fail to get perfect scores, don’t put their morale down; instead, educate them that mistakes are parts and parcels of learning- and getting up from where they fall is more important

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On top of that, strong sense of responsibility will also help children to misbehave due to boredom or to gain attention.  Therefore, encourage them to take responsibility by starting off with daily house chores. Don’t be worried about whether they can do it or not. Often they will feel good after doing the chores; and the sense of accomplishment will encourage them to help out again if we show our appreciation for their hard work. Then, we can encourage them further to help community, for instance we can take part in some charity works, so that children can help the needy people and realize their social responsibility. 


Most important of all, children have to be nurtured in positive environment so that they will deal with their difficulties in positive way. It all boils down to how we adjust our thinking to look at the bright sides of problems. “Looks like we have to cancel our picnic today because it rained outside.” Don’t just stop there unless you want to face the gloomy faces for the rest of your day. Continue with some suggestions such as “But never mind. We can still go to the park after it stopped. Let’s continue with our board game while waiting, and try to beat me this time!” 


Also, don’t underestimate the power of humor and appreciation elements in helping children to grow resilient. Try to do sharing with each other about the stories or events that are worth appreciated, no matter how small the events can be. The idea of creating a family “gratitude book” to share the things for which we are grateful is definitely beneficial for children, too!


All in all, building up resilience is a lifelong journey, and it will only come into place as one faces more encounters with hardships or obstacles. As parents, we shouldn’t deprive our children of the opportunities to go through hardships by thinking that they are too young to suffer. As a Chinese saying goes “Take suffering as tonics”, children will need to learn through falls before they are able to spread their wings and roam free!