Much is being written and said about failure and how crucial it is. And indeed, failure needs to be as treasured as success. As a psychologist, I often see instances where parents tend to overlook their ward’s success and instead complain about areas where the performance is not as expected. This pattern of interaction needs to be checked and changed.
What is failure? Some dictionaries define failure as lack of success. If we look deep into this definition, then a thought strikes the mind: if failure is lack of success, then that implies, one tried and did not succeed. The question then that we need to ask ourselves and perhaps our children is – “Isn’t trying and not succeeding better than not trying at all for fear of failure?” Many families and teachers are so focused on making their children the best at everything that while successes are grandiosely celebrated, even the minutest of failures are criticized with much intensity. And therefore, we are inheriting a generation of young minds who are afraid of trying because of the question – “What if they fail??”
There are several ways in which we can appreciate failure without conveying a counteractive message that success is not needed. First of all, we need to explain to our wards the importance of trying. It is important to try irrespective of what the outcome will be. Winning or losing is the byproduct of being part of something through which an individual gains valuable experience. The goal should be to enjoy whatever it is we are being a part of; if one truly enjoys what they are a part of, success is often said to follow.
Once a child knows the importance of trying, has tried, for example, taking part in a drawing competition, and did not come first, second or third, and comes and tells you, the parent, about how bad they feel he/she feels about not winning, it is time to make him/her nourish the experience of drawing in that competition. The phrase ‘looking at the bright side’ is perfectly valid here. You as a parent can with your child look at all that your ward may have learnt during the competition; did he/she use a new drawing skill; did he/she learn something about drawing; and many such similar questions.
Lastly, it is important to appreciate the failure; celebrate it rather. You must also be happy about your and your child’s failures. Failures mean a person is learning. Imagine someone who has never faced rejections, never failed? Aren’t they missing out on an important life event? For only when we fail we learn about ourselves and others around us.
[First published on Parent Edge online blog http://parentedge.in/the-importance-of-failure-in-the-growing-years/ ]