Daily Bulletin


The Conversation

  • Written by Mandie Shean, Lecturer, School of Education, Edith Cowan University

In recent years, there has been a concerted effort to protect children from failure in order to safeguard their fragile self-esteem. This seems logical – failure is unpleasant. It tends to make you look bad, you have negative feelings of disappointment and frustration, and you often have to start again.

While this is logical, it actually has the opposite effect. Children and adolescents in Australia appear less able to cope than ever before.

The problem is, in our efforts to protect children, we take valuable opportunities for learning away from them. Failure provides benefits that cannot be gained any other way. Failure is a gift disguised as a bad experience. Failure is not the absence of success, but the experience of failure on the way to success.

Read more: What do parents fear? Unwrapping the bubble-wrap generation

The gift of coping

When we fail, we experience negative emotions such as disappointment or frustration. When children are protected from these feelings they can believe they are powerless and have no control over mastery.

The answer is not to avoid failure, but to learn how to cope with small failures. These low-level challenges have been called “steeling events”. Protecting children from these events is more likely to increase their vulnerability than promote resilience. When adults remove failure so children do not have to experience it, they become more vulnerable to future experiences of failure.

Protecting your kids from failure isn't helpful. Here's how to build their resilience Small failures can help your child become more resilient, if handled properly. from www.shutterstock.com

The gift of understanding natural consequences

One of the greatest gifts failure brings is we learn natural consequences to our decisions. It’s a very simple concept developed by early behaviourists: “when I do X, Y happens”. If I don’t study, I will fail; if I don’t practice, I may lose my spot on the team.

Allowing children to experience these outcomes teaches them the power of their decisions.

When parents and teachers derail this process by protecting children from failure, they also stand in the way of natural consequences. Studies show children who are protected from failure are more depressed and less satisfied with life in adulthood.

The gift of learning

Mistakes are the essence of learning. As we have new experiences and develop competence, it’s inevitable we make mistakes. If failure is held as a sign of incompetence and something that should be avoided (rather than a normal thing), children will start to avoid the challenges necessary for learning.

Failure is only a gift if students see it as an opportunity rather than a threat. This depends on their mindset.

Children with a growth mindset believe intelligence is malleable and can be changed with effort. Those with a fixed mindset believe they were born with a certain level of intelligence. So, failure is a signal for growth mindset children to try harder or differently, but a sign they aren’t smart enough for children with a fixed mindset.

Praise should be focused on effort

Praise can be used to compensate and help children feel valuable in the face of failure. We see this when children get a participation ribbon in a running race for coming in last.

But research indicates, paradoxically, this inflated praise has the opposite effect. In the study, when parents gave inflated praise (“incredibly” good work) and person-focused praise (such as “you’re beautiful”, “you’re smart” or “you’re special”), children’s self-esteem decreased.

Read more: Children learn from stress and failure: all the more reason you shouldn't do their homework

Praise that is person-focused results in children avoiding failure and challenging tasks to maintain acceptance and self-worth. This is because praise is conditional on “who they are” rather than their efforts.

Praise for effort sounds like “you worked really hard”. This is better because children can control how hard they work, but they can’t control how smart or special they are. Children need to be free to learn without there being a risk to their sense of worth.

Tips for parents

So how do we do this well? Here are some tips to help parents support their children:

Protecting your kids from failure isn't helpful. Here's how to build their resilience Author provided/The Conversation/Shutterstock, CC BY-ND Protecting your child from failure isn’t actually helpful. Allow them to feel and live it, and let them have the gifts failure brings. Experiencing failure will make them more resilient and more likely to succeed in the future.

Authors: Mandie Shean, Lecturer, School of Education, Edith Cowan University

Read more http://theconversation.com/protecting-your-kids-from-failure-isnt-helpful-heres-how-to-build-their-resilience-99021

Writers Wanted

I studied 5,000 phone images: objects were more popular than people, but women took way more selfies

arrow_forward

Bad reactions to the COVID vaccine will be rare, but Australians deserve a proper compensation scheme

arrow_forward

Pacific tourism is desperate for a vaccine and travel freedoms, but the industry must learn from this crisis

arrow_forward

The Conversation
INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

Politics

Prime Minister Interview with Ben Fordham, 2GB

BEN FORDHAM: Scott Morrison, good morning to you.    PRIME MINISTER: Good morning, Ben. How are you?    FORDHAM: Good. How many days have you got to go?   PRIME MINISTER: I've got another we...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sky News

KIERAN GILBERT: Kieran Gilbert here with you and the Prime Minister joins me. Prime Minister, thanks so much for your time.  PRIME MINISTER: G'day Kieran.  GILBERT: An assumption a vaccine is ...

Daily Bulletin - avatar Daily Bulletin

Did BLM Really Change the US Police Work?

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has proven that the power of the state rests in the hands of the people it governs. Following the death of 46-year-old black American George Floyd in a case of ...

a Guest Writer - avatar a Guest Writer

Business News

Cybersecurity data means nothing to business leaders without context

Top business leaders are starting to realise the widespread impact a cyberattack can have on a business. Unfortunately, according to a study by Forrester Consulting commissioned by Tenable, some...

Scott McKinnel, ANZ Country Manager, Tenable - avatar Scott McKinnel, ANZ Country Manager, Tenable

InteliCare triple winner at prestigious national technology awards

InteliCare triple winner at prestigious national technology awards Intelicare wins each nominated category and takes out overall category at national technology 2020 iAwards. Company wins overal...

Media Release - avatar Media Release

Arriba Group Founder, Marcella Romero, wins CEO Magazine’s Managing Director of the Year

Founder and Managing Director of the Arriba Group, Marcella Romero, has won Managing Director of the Year at last night’s The CEO Magazine’s Executive of the Year Awards. The CEO Magazine's Ex...

Lanham Media - avatar Lanham Media



News Co Media Group

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion