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

At the beginning of their journey in learning to speak, I admit, I was feeling a bit sorry for myself. After overcoming five years of infertility, I couldn’t believe I would now have to struggle with my kids' severe learning disabilities. Thankfully, my husband was of the mindset that this was a gift, and our kids would overcome these setbacks if we remained positive and encouraged them. Was he ever right!

This was one of the most inspiring times of my parenting life. We surrounded ourselves with terrific speech and occupational therapists and dove right in. The best part was learning that our challenged kids were far more resilient than we had ever realized. Because they couldn’t communicate verbally, they had to rely on other means of expressing themselves and getting their needs met. I believe this is what changed the parenting mindset that I had to do as much for my kids as I thought I did. Watching my three language-delayed kids make decisions and take risks because it was all they knew helped me become a much better parent—one who trusted that my kids' instincts would guide them and when a situation didn’t work out, they would rally and learn from it.

Indeed, failure will help a person grow, and when our kids are given that chance early on, it will help build a solid foundation for them to thrive when life throws them those unexpected curve balls.

4. Failure Keeps You Focused On Your Goals

Goal setting has long been suggested by top motivational gurus to keep a person on task. In my episode 4 Lifelong Skills for Your Child’s Success, I delve into the important benefits of goal setting. Personally, I’ve always been a strong believer in goal setting because it keeps me organized and moving forward. Whenever I get off track, I pick up my journal of written goals and re-read them to stay motivated.

Goal setting, however, is also a wonderful tool to offset the frustration and disappointment associated with failure. Writing for Forbes, Caroline Beaton encourages readers to stay the course after failure even though it’s natural to want to throw in the towel and give up. Instead, set specific goals to keep you moving forward and in the process, celebrate even the small victories. “Recognizing your progress, however small, does two things: first, it extends the enjoyment of our achievement and, secondly, it increases our motivation. Our brains accelerate as we perceive success to be closer; rats run faster at the end of the maze, and marathoners speed up after 26.1 miles in 'the X-spot.'"

One of my children graduated from college with an Associates Degree in graphic design (one of my language-delayed children, in fact). It was her goal to finish with her Bachelor’s degree but due to personal reasons, she decided to take a different path in pursuing her degree. She’s worked in both retail and marketing for the past few years but has become increasingly discouraged with her career path. After working with a progressive company for a couple years in a role she thought had potential, she was let go and told she wasn’t the right fit for their company’s future. 

Totally taken aback and completely crushed, she admittedly wallowed for a few days, but then she took the bull by the horns and made the decision to go back to college and finish what she started. She was recently accepted to a top-notch college where she will get her Bachelor’s degree and in the process, she landed a fantastic part-time position with a publishing company who loved her creative ideas and zest for whimsy! Now she is experiencing the best of both worlds, and she credits this to never giving up on her goals.

Failure, like change, is inevitable—it’s just a fact of life. By guiding our kids with skills such as goal setting we can help put them back in the driver’s seat so they can take control of future disappointments and stay focused on whatever goals and dreams that are really important to them.

How do you help your kids rally after failure?  Share your thoughts in the comment section at quickanddirtytips.com/mighty-mommy or post your ideas on the Mighty Mommy Facebook page. You can also connect with me on Twitter @MightyMommy or e-mail me at mommy@quickanddirtytips.com.  Visit my family-friendly boards at Pinterest.com/MightyMommyQDT. Image of girl who fell off her bike © Shutterstock.


About the Author

Cheryl Butler

Cheryl L. Butler 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. Call the Mighty Mommy listener line at 401-284-7575 to ask a parenting question. Your call could be featured on the show!