Yesterday we went over the characteristics of resilient children. Two of these characteristics are that a resilient child has learned how to problem solve and has been allowed to experience failure.
The Power of Failure
Failure can help a child (and an adult) develop an identity. Oftentimes we desire for children to have high self-esteem and see themselves in a good light. While this sentiment is well-intentioned, it can be misguided. Let me explain.
Self-esteem is generally created from the outside, for example, from hearing what others think about us. What is more helpful and healthy is creating competency within a child. This generally comes from allowing a child to fail, then letting them learn how to figure it out for themselves and how to do it differently next time. Competency is created from the inside, rather than from the outside.
Building from the inside out ("I am capable of doing x,y or z") helps a child trust themselves. Competency is more permanent than self-esteem because it is rooted in things the child accomplished, rather than based on another's thoughts about the child. Self-esteem creates a dependence on others words or actions. Self-esteem is more fleeting than helping a child feel competent at something.
It's hard to let children fail. Hopefully as you read, it's becoming clear to see how failure can be a healthy part of the development of a well-rounded child, creating resiliency and strength.
Written by: Tamara Portee MA, LMHC, LCAC
*Tamara enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, & couples counseling at Imagine Hope. We also specialize in family counseling, child & adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield & Fishers.