Embrace my kid’s shortcomings and failures? This may seem counter-intuitive but the truth is that failure precedes success many times over. How many times did your child fail off her bike before she could ride it. Many! Has your child ever refused to try something new because they were sure they would fail? It is this failure that kids must learn to endure and even embrace if they are to achieve success. Here are 10 ways to begin to instill that perseverance and reduce perfectionism.
1. Celebrate Failures
Regularly ask your children what they failed at today. At first they will find this quite perplexing. “Nothing!”, they will insist. But with a little help from you, probing or even providing examples from your own life, kids will pick up that they actually fail all the time. Failing means that you tried and failing multiple times means that you tried again.
2. Embrace Mistakes
Making mistakes is a hallmark of trying something new. Encourage kids to find their mistakes and celebrate their ability to recognize them.
3. Talk about Failures
Talking about failures gives you the opportunity to sit with the disappointment, hurt, and embarrassment of failing with them. They don’t have to be alone with or scared of that feeling because they are there with you. If your children can tell you about their failure, you open up a world of communication about overcoming failures, trying new strategies and persevering on the difficult path to success.
4. Feel your Failures
We can’t take our children farther than we have gone ourselves. You must be able to be vulnerable with your own disappointment, hurt and embarrassment in order to walk your child through the process. It sucks and it’s painful but you have the know the path through those big feelings to the other side to lead your child there.
5. Normalize mistakes and reduce perfectionism
Point out your own mistakes and take steps to take to correct or prevent repeated mistakes. Even better, let your child come up with ideas to help you do better next time.
6. Shift to encouragement and perseverance
Only after we sit with their uncomfortable feelings, do we earn the credibility to push them to get back up and try again. Perseverance should be an active part of their vocabulary along with try, try again.
7. Point out steps in the right direction
Failure and success is not black and white. Pointing out the pieces of what they did get right can provide motivation to try again and teaches them how to distill the good out of a disappointing experience. Your team many not have won the soccer game but you spent less time bunching and had more assists than your last game.
8. Congratulate questions
Were you that kid who was scared to asked their questions in class; sure that your teacher and classmates would think you were a moron? We all were that kid at one point or another and the embarrassment of our ignorance may have resulted in us wallowing in that ignorance. Children should embrace their ignorance in a loving goodbye hug. Emphasize that asking questions gets the questions answered.
9. Ask questions everyday
Ask your child, “what questions did you ask today?” It gives their questions importance. Furthermore, if you ask enough questions and see the world does not fall apart, the anxiety created from not knowing the answer or worrying how others will react will diminish. Much in the same way the initial anxiety of driving diminishes with experience.
10. Celebrate successes
Your celebrations of their successes means more when they know you know how hard they tried.
Remember failure is part of life!
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