How to Parent a Child With a Fear of Failure


how to parent a child with a fear of failure

If I ask one of my kids to help me out with a chore, my son will usually wait for someone else to volunteer. And according to his teachers, he doesn’t participate much in class. Sometimes it’s just plain laziness, but he has also told me he’s afraid of getting things wrong. I don’t want my son to live life on the sidelines from fear of failure.

A child who is afraid of failure shies away from trying new things and taking risks—and you need both to develop some grit. Here’s how to parent a child with a fear of failure using 3 simple ideas.

Disqualify the fear.

Play out the worst-case scenario with your child. This might sound a little gloomy, but imagining the worst that could happen will help him realize that some of the “threats” are imaginary. I ask my son, “And then what will happen?” This gets down to the root of the fear so you can speak truth to the deep parts of your child’s heart. Getting to the root is key for how to parent a child with a fear of failure.

Celebrate failure.

In a Masterclass featuring Sarah Blakely, the creator of Spanx, she shared that every day in childhood, her dad asked her this question: “What’s one thing you failed at?” He was actually disappointed if his kids reported that they didn’t fail at anything. It meant they weren’t trying anything new. Trying something new might feel daunting for kids because they know they’ll make some mistakes along the way. But that’s an opportunity for them to look at failure differently. Aim to raise fearless kids who use failures as opportunities to grow.

Be a positive voice.

Not if, but when your children make mistakes, the ones who are afraid of failing will need a positive mindset to counteract the negative thoughts they have about themselves. Your child may have feelings of incompetence or hopelessness and may just want to give up. Remind him or her that your love isn’t conditional upon successes and failures. You also can encourage your kids by giving them a positive growth mindset. A great way to counteract a kid’s negative thoughts is by using the power of “yet.” If your child says, “I can’t do it,” you can add the word “yet” to the end of the statement and remind him or her that there’s always room for growth.

How will you celebrate failure in your own home?

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