Advice Column, Child, Education, Impaq, Parenting

Let your child fail – it’s okay

Facing challenges and making mistakes can help your child grow.

By Danielle Barfoot

As parents, we want to protect our children – from danger, from upset, from things not turning out how they had hoped, and especially from failure. But we need to realise that it’s not just okay, but essential, for our children to fail and make mistakes. 

As difficult as it may be to accept, we cannot shield our children from defeat, sadness, anxiety, or regret. But we can help them experience it safely. Providing opportunities for children to make mistakes and face the subsequent consequences is vital to raising adults who can meet life’s challenges with confidence. 

In fact, research has shown that children who don’t have opportunities to struggle and recover have lower self-confidence and a less developed self-concept. They tend to be more fearful of failure and less willing to try new things.

Here are four benefits of allowing your child to make mistakes:

  • Develop self-confidence: When children are allowed to make decisions on their own, they develop self-confidence. This self-confidence helps them to not be so afraid of failure that they are unwilling to try new things.  
  • Build life skills: Children develop important life skills when they are allowed to go through challenging situations. They learn how to bounce back, handle negative emotions, develop self-control, and how to apologise. 
  • Take responsibility: Allowing children to make their own decisions creates an opportunity for them to also deal with the consequences. Sometimes they will make poor decisions, which will teach them to take responsibility for their actions. They will learn from the natural consequences and will (hopefully) make wiser decisions in the future.
  • Solve their own problems: Too often, either because it’s easier or because we hate to see them struggle, we rush in to help our children figure something out. But letting your child try and try again – and eventually get it right on her own – will teach her more about herself and her abilities than when you rush in to save the day. 

Life doesn’t always go as expected

From getting a low grade or fighting with a friend to losing an important game, life can be riddled with disappointments and failures. But instead of focusing on a fixed marker of success, consider what your child has learned. Instead of the mistake or perceived failure, the focus should be on personal growth and development. 

So, when things go wrong – and they will – show your acceptance and support. Let her know that it’s okay to make mistakes and that failure isn’t fatal… even if she feels as if she might die of embarrassment. 

This article was contributed by Impaq Education (previously known as Impak Onderwysdiens). At Impaq we know that personal growth and development is an important part of any child’s educational journey. We provide innovative and accessible education solutions to help learners prepare for life in a modern society. 

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