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TO FAIL IS TO LEARN - Building Independence & Resiliency

One question, should I let my child fail, or should I help them get through it? The answer is yes and yes. It would be best if you let your child fail FIRST, and THEN help them get through it by THEMSELVES. As parents, I know it's difficult to witness your child's failure, but if you change your perspectives, failure can be a positive experience for children. Failure is not necessarily a negative and bad thing. We humans, learn through failure. 

Sometimes, it is okay to let your child fail. Through failure, they will learn to be independent, resilient and confident. As parents, you are so used to being one step ahead of them, reminding them to finish their homework, to take a shower, to help them with their breakfast, and to make sure they don't get hurt. When you do that, you are robing natural consequences away from them.


Children have to learn that if they don't finish their homework, they will have to face their teachers. Children have to learn that if they don't learn how to fix their breakfast, they will get hungry. All these are natural consequences that children have to experience in order to learn. If you protect children too much, they will get overly dependent, and eventually not knowing how to get things done for themselves. At the end of the day, not just children will suffer, parents will too. 

How to let children fail to learn?

1. Every problem arise is an opportunity for learning

Children: accidentally spilt her drinks; fell off his bike; not able to finish his homework; got angry and broke her toys; - All these are natural consequences, and served as a problem-solving and learning opportunity for them. 

Let children experience those failures, give them space to think, provide them with the support ("it's okay honey, you got this") and allow them to get back up themselves. 

If she spilt her drinks, assure her it's okay. Guide her to take the cloth and clean up herself. Guide her to pour a new cup. Remember to praise for her independence. The next time she spills again, she will have the confidence and independence to problem-solve on her own. 

2. Knowing the Power of Pause

When children fail, most parents will instantly dash to their rescue. When you do this, not only are you not giving them time and space to understand the situation, you also taking away their one and only chance to learn to problem-solve. 

When a child fell off his bike, before he can analyse the situation, you stormed towards him, picked him up and put him back on the bike. How is he going to learn how to regulate his emotions, stand up and get back on the bike on his own? Parents, it is important we learn to take a step back, pause for a moment, and allow children to digest the failure and to think about how to come up with a solution. Of course, every situation is different. Learning can only take place if the circumstances are safe and secure (well if the fall is really serious, and he broke his legs, then it is not the best time to pause!). 

3. Let children own up and be responsible for their failures

Your child can't finish her homework. You decided to help her so she won't get scolded by her teachers. If you do that, not only will she not learn how to take responsibilities for her failure, she will also learn not to own up to her mistakes because parents will always get her out of trouble. 

If she is not able to finish her homework because she spent too much time on her phone, and get detention the next day, that's the natural consequences she has to face for her own behaviour, not you. She has to experience the hard way for her to learn. 

As parents, your role is to support her throughout, not helping her. If she learns from her mistakes and takes responsibility, be sure to praise for her resiliency and independence.  

Child Doing Art Activity


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