Do You And Your Child Fear Failing? - Emma Bancroft Maths Coaching
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Do You And Your Child Fear Failing?

Do You And Your Child Fear Failing?

Today, I wanted to talk to you about transforming your mindset (and your child’s) around ‘failure’ and how that can make a huge difference to how you approach various situations in life…


As a parent, it is natural to want to protect your child’s feelings and self-esteem and for everything in life to be perfect for them. You may believe your intentions are good as you are doing this out of love, but in fact, these actions are having quite the opposite effect on your child and can be very detrimental for them as they grow up.


Avoiding failure in life is almost impossible. However, failure is an important and valuable lesson to learn as it teaches the child life skills such as commitment, patience, determination, decision-making and problem-solving.


Babies are born with a positive attitude and self-confidence. They are not born with a fear of failure. As they grow up, they learn from example, so parents need to be mindful of their own responses to mistakes and failures.


Don’t be afraid of failure – it just means learning what doesn’t work.


As children pursue their goals, take tests and sit exams, they may often experience failure. Making mistakes and failing is part of a learning curve. These setbacks will help them learn to respond positively to the frustration and disappointment they will feel at the time.


If children never try new things or participate in any activities they will never face failure. This is a negative attitude for both the parent and child to have. Parents must convince their child not to avoid doing things just because it makes them feel anxious. Unless you take risks, you will never achieve anything in life and that on some occasions failure may be inevitable as you may not be good at all things. Children should be provided with the opportunity to try new things.


Peer pressure can be very common in a classroom. Some children may not be able to handle this peer pressure and develop a fear complex of having to compete in their studies, tests/exams and activities such as sports. Parents should encourage the child to be the best they can be and that with several attempts they will improve and reach success. This will raise the child’s self-confidence and motivation.


For children who are old enough to understand things fully, parents can reinforce their child’s self-beliefs by using affirmations such as:-

  • “I can do it”
  • “I have the ability”
  • “I am as good as others”
  • “Fear is just that – fear”


If a child keeps failing they will become discouraged. They may feel that not only have they let themselves down but also you, their parent.  As a parent, try not to look worried or anxious when your child is struggling. He/she will pick up on this. Also, do not fret if your child gets their homework wrong – do not correct any wrong answers or complete any assignments for them. You may think you are helping them but you aren’t! They need to learn for themselves. Demonstrate that you love your child unconditionally, are very proud of them and have open conversations about success and failure. Highlight your own failures and how you dealt with them – perseverance, determination and eventually succeeding. The goal is not to eliminate anxiety but to help your child manage it.


Help your child to focus on the solution. Remind them of all the positive things they can do. Create a positive atmosphere by emphasising effort rather than ability. Encourage effort, practice, learning strategies, determination, persistence and continued improvement. Praise their achievements no matter how small. Most children are resilient and will eventually learn that although failing can be extremely disappointing, they can eventually develop the mindset to be strong enough to overcome it.


As individuals, we get to define what success means to us. 


Success looks different for everyone. For some, it’s about accolades. For others, it’s about feeling a sense of personal accomplishment. Ultimately, failure doesn’t have to be a negative word or something to be feared. We have opportunities in life to try again, to re-sit exams and retake tests. Sometimes we should let go to make room for something else. Other times we should keep pursuing – it’s about the journey, not the destination.


I hope this has been of some encouragement to you and your child.