Let your kids fail. According to various research and every day observances, less and less parents support this idea. Most parents believe in their hearts they’re doing the right thing when they “help” their children in social, academic, or other scenarios.
As a college career counselor who has met with thousands of college students to discuss academics, careers, and personal concerns, I am hear to tell you that by not letting your children experience failure, you are crippling them. I have seen first-hand the 20-year-old riddled with anxiety and fear, completing lacking the ability to make decisions or deal with failure, negativity, and unpleasant situations.
I’m not going to spout off the many quotes that emphasize what one can learn from failure, or how making mistakes makes you stronger. You can search those on your own. What I want to offer are seven simple ways you can let your child fail that will make a huge difference as they grow.
1. Don’t Do Their Homework for Them
Don’t confuse tutoring or helping with doing the work for your child. What happens when you aren’t there to take the test for them? If your child is struggling in a subject, look for tutoring options instead.
2. Leave the Forgotten Homework at Home
Letting that math worksheet sit on the kitchen table all day is going to be difficult, knowing how hard they worked the night before to complete it. But the lesson here is the homework is not completed until it’s handed in. They'll likely remember next time.
3. Avoid Being Their Second Coach on the Sidelines
Don’t be that parent who is coaching your child from the sidelines, or offering “helpful” tips on the drive home after the game. The likely result will be your child no longer enjoying the sport or activity.
4. Let Them Fail a Test
If it’s because they didn’t study enough, they've learned a lesson. If it’s because they didn’t understand the material, you now know to look for reasons why.
5. Resist the Urge to Email the Teacher
Instead, encourage your child to email the teacher or talk directly with the instructor. Remember, an email or conversation isn’t always necessary. Sometimes your child failing a test or not getting a good grade has nothing to do with the teacher.
6. Don’t Rush to Fix Friendship Problems
Yes, it’s hard to see your child upset because they're in a fight with their best friend. But telling your child how to handle the situation – or contacting the other parent to help resolve it – does more harm in the long run. It doesn’t give children the opportunity to resolve things on their own. Conflict is a part of life.
7. Remember the Value of Just Being There
Hugs, kisses, words of reassurance — they mean a lot. Being there for your child when they experience failure will help more than figuring out ways to keep them from failing.
Kids don’t need parents fixing things. Kids need parents to guide them in how to handle things. Knowing the difference will help your child grow into a confident adult ready to handle problems on their own.