4 Ways Failure Can Benefit Your Child

Failure is not only a part of life, it’s necessary. The next time your child faces one of life’s struggles, don’t fret—instead embrace it.

Cheryl Butler
7-minute read
Episode #503

During the 25 years that I’ve been raising my kids, I’ve seen a range of academic-, sport-, social-, work-, and peer-related successes, wins, personal bests, and victories (big and small). I've also seen awkward mishaps, school struggles, social catastrophes, and everything in between. 

Watching your children grow up is an amazing journey with plenty of highs and lows. It’s always exciting to see them hitting new milestones and thriving. Of course, that’s when all is going well. It's a different story when your child hits a roadblock and you watch him fall flat on his face. 

Naturally, no parent wants to see their child have setbacks. But quite frankly, failure is not only a part of life, it’s necessary. The next time your child faces one of life’s struggles, don’t fret—instead, embrace it. Mighty Mommy shares four ways that failure can benefit your child and even leave you as the parent feeling stronger.

Four Ways Failure Helps Your Child

  1. Learn From Their Mistakes
  2. Helps Handle Life’s Setbacks
  3. Encourages Growth
  4. Keeps You Focused On Your Goals

We’ll explore each in more detail.

1. Learn From Their Mistakes

Raising as large a family as mine certainly has had its challenges, but it has also afforded me a big advantage: the ability to step back and let my kids do for themselves. I’ve been outnumbered for most of my parenting years, so I've had to rely on my gut instincts and I've had to trust in my children’s abilities to make their own choices, even when I wasn’t totally on board.

This includes things like their choice of friendships, how they’ve managed homework assignments, not studying for major exams, and making poor choices with their hard earned money ($200 sneakers that were outgrown in a month).

Each of these scenarios yielded a different outcome for my kids, and although some of the scenarios ended in full-blown meltdowns—for instance, flunking the Spanish II midterm because watching the final weeks of "The Voice" was apparently far more important than studying—the bottom line was that they had to learn to own their own decisions—good or bad—and continue moving forward.

In Psychology Today’s How Allowing Children to Fail Helps Them Succeed, columnist Susan Newman Ph.D. makes a very astute statement about how today’s parent is trying to raise superstar kids, which often results in the rigid role of being a helicopter parent. This term bluntly refers to a parent who hovers continuously over the child from the moment he sets foot out of bed each day until even after he heads off to college. Sure, it’s normal to want to protect our kids from harm, but they need to be allowed to exert their independence, even as toddlers. Keeping them at arm’s length in a bubble will never give them the opportunity to spread their wings and soar.

Experiences are truly the best teacher, and when we allow our kids the chance to make their own mistakes we gift them with the wonderful opportunity to learn and grow.

See Also: How to Stop Helicopter Parenting


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Cheryl Butler Project Parenthood

Cheryl L. Butler was the host of the Mighty Mommy podcast for nine years from 2012 to 2021. She is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. You can reach her by email.