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Your Child Will Fail, That Much Is Guaranteed

When they do, the life lesson is to accept it, learn from it, learn to live with it, move on and carry it softly.

10/03/2017 12:21 EDT | Updated 10/03/2017 12:26 EDT
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There are few things in life a parent can guarantee their child, but failure at something or with someone is assured. There is one major reason why we can guarantee failure in our child's lives. Children will feel a sense of failure at some things in life because so much about life is subjective.

Subjectivity is a view that is based on emotive, anecdotal, and/or personal experience. It is the opposite of "objectivity", which purports to be bias- or -judgement-free and data-driven.

Very little of life today is bias or judgement-free. Subjectivity is essentially someone's opinion or our own biased view about ourselves or others.

As a parent, there are many ways to prepare your child for failure. It begins with you. How do you deal with failure? Your attitudes, perceptions or obsessions can affect your child for better or worse.

As well, a parent's first instinct is to protect their children from failure. That reaction has been proven in scientific research to be detrimental to a child's development. Those hovering, protectionist "bubble-wrapping" parents create anxious children unwilling to take risks or manage stressful experiences.

In our own lives and in the lives of the famous, failure has often led to unanticipated success.

One approach to help your child deal with failure is to draw on life experience. Share with your child relevant personal anecdotes. In particular, how often in life have the failures led to something better? In our own lives and in the lives of the famous, failure has often led to unanticipated success. There are many examples of that spirited determination.

A short history of famous epic failures is another way to help children understand subjectivity and the importance of failure in life. Walt Disney was fired from one of his first jobs because it was the editor's opinion that he "lacked imagination and had no good ideas." The name synonymous with imagination, vision and creativity was told he "lacked imagination."

J.K. Rowling was fired from a job because she spent so much time typing stories. Lady Gaga was dropped from her fist major record label after three months. The list is long and fascinating, and is a lesson in the tenacity of the human spirit.

Michael Jordan said:"I have missed over 9,000 shots in my career... I have missed, I have failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

STR New / Reuters
Walt Disney is pictured at the drawing board with a sketch of his famous character, Mickey Mouse.

All of these "failures" epitomize the notion that developing tenacity and willpower is the counterpoint to allowing failure to affect motivation.

This strength of character is essential because there is another truth in the issue of failure. Some failures will be sympathetic rejections and others will be harsh, terse and deflating. We can't always order up pleasant rejections in life. They will learn that with subjectivity goes a power that may or may not be used with compassion or courtesy.

Our world is leaning more toward the harsh and terse, so building that layer of personal resiliency is more important than ever. Your children must move on, dig deeper and believe in themselves.

What are the effects of being unable to deal with failure? At the very least it can affect self-confidence and cause anxiety. These factors might lead to a sense of helplessness and fear of trying new experiences. Inability to deal with failure can be debilitating. Failed once — why bother?

The most difficult task for a parent is to allow your child to fail.

Life is all about new experiences with ample opportunity for failure. Children are constantly facing new challenges. New teachers, new schools, new friends, every year in their life is all about new. And with that goes failure. They will fail at school, at friendships and in so many different ways. They will learn from each failure — maybe not at the moment, but there are important life lessons in most failures.

That is why the most difficult task for a parent is to allow your child to fail. Research suggests that over-parenting can lead a child to experience difficulty accepting a failure. If children aren't allowed to fail or if the parent rushes in to make it all better it means the child is given less opportunity to experience the failure. Rather, let them talk about it, what they learned or how they might have done better in the situation. Coping mechanisms are essential skills in their life ahead.

Some failures your child will carry for a lifetime, just as we adults have done with some of our failures. The life lesson is to accept it, learn from it, learn to live with it, move on and carry it softly.

In many instances it's a harsh lesson — failure. Understanding subjectivity helps. Looking for the lessons or the door that opened as a result are healthy ways to bounce back. We choose how to view our failures.

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