Striking a balance between success and failure

As those of you who have met with me know, I’m fond of the Love and Logic approach to parenting. I just read this quote from this week’s newsletter, “Remember that it’s really good for your kids to have an equal balance of success and failure.”

There are lessons for kids to learn from both success (e.g., how to be a gracious winner) and failure (e.g. that you can survive the pain). Too much of one or the other limits the practice and the overall success of your child.

I see in my practice kids who do not have enough practice with failure. Winning can become the goal achieved at all costs as the child (and perhaps parents) invest too much of the child’s identity in being a winner. This can turn into kids cheating on tests, parents doing the child’s homework or parents and kids getting into a nagging/resistance loop. To fail at a specific thing becomes failure as a person–who wouldn’t cheat if this were the premiss.

I think it is easier to see what happens to kids who fail too much. This can bring on low self-esteem, depression or a cynical jaundiced view of life. These kids can tell fake praise or overly global praise. To them it can sound like hollow cheer leading.

Is there a way out? Praise trying and persistence, praise trying something new and beginnings. Help children to evaluate their own effort and accomplishments rather than relying on others.

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