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Teaching Your Child to Celebrate Failures

by on 18/05/2022 3804

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 care 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 the 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 of a resilient child include:

  • 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, here are some helpful tips on how to help your child build up his/her resilience:

 

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, when was the time when we managed to give a challenge our best shot, or pulled through 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 spoil them; 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 relationships with others. 

 

2. Be positive 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 models to influence them. For example, we can teach them that mistakes are good opportunities to learn how to handle certain 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, such as, approach parents, teachers, or the community, in order to find solutions.

 

3. Be participative in helping children develop self-regulation and positive thinking skills

“I believe every parent has unfavorable experience in dealing with the misbehaviours 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 healthily, so that they will have enough energy to deal with the extra stress. Besides, we can help children to visualize positive experiences. 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. Practice with them and prompt them to keep on trying even when it’s hard and frustrating. If they still fail to pass, don’t put their morale down; instead, encourage them that mistakes are part and parcel of learning - and getting up from where they fall is more important.

 

On top of that, instilling a strong sense of responsibility from a young age will also help children who tend 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 that 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 the community, for instance, we can take part in some charity works, so that children can help those in need and realize their social responsibilities. 

 

Most important of all, children have to be nurtured in a positive environment so that they are able to deal with their difficulties in a positive way. It all boils down to how we adjust our mindset to look on the bright side 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 the rain stops. Let’s continue with our board game while waiting, and try to beat me this time!” 

 

Also, don’t underestimate the power of humour and appreciation when helping children to become resilient individuals. Creating a family “gratitude book” to share the things for which we are grateful for is definitely beneficial for children too. 

 

All in all, building up resilience is a lifelong journey, and it will only come into place when one faces more encounters with hardships or obstacles. As parents, we shouldn’t always step in the moment our children faces a challenge; we should let them figure things out on their own first and let them exercise their creative thinking skills. As a Chinese saying goes “Take sufferings as tonics,” children will need to learn through falls and failures before they are able to spread their wings and roam free!