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Failing Young

Updated: Jul 8, 2021

Hello! Thanks for stopping by! Let's just sit and talk for a bit....about failing. In case you haven't noticed, I'm a big fan of candor. I don't "beat around the bush" much. When it comes to kids and teens, some of the best lessons come from some of the worst experiences. Who doesn't learn best "hands-on"? As painful as it is to watch our kids fail, they will learn far more through failure and overcoming that failure, than 100 "talks" or parent demonstrations.

Here is an example at the most basic level:

My 6-year-old seems to favor putting her shoes on the opposite feet. She has received so many reminders, I might as well make one of those "easy buttons" and record my voice on it. But, sending her out to play with her friends in her choice of shoe position = the golden ticket to correcting the action. Turns out, you cannot run as fast as your buddies when your shoes are switched! Ha!

Now, let's apply that to teens. We certainly won't let them fail to the point of bodily harm, but a little failure goes a long way toward the goal of becoming an actual adult someday. Here are a few examples:

My 13-year-old avoids doing laundry to the point that he literally had no clean clothes, despite many reminders (aka - those voices he hears that he ignores). He runs out of clean clothing but needs to leave for school. He puts on a worn shirt and walks out of his room to pack up. I simply say, "We don't wear dirty clothes to school." He makes a face that is somewhere between panic and complete astoundment but literally cannot speak. He regains composure and says, "I don't have any clean shirts." I say, "......" and shrug. He begs his brother for a shirt that is too big for him and does his laundry after school.

A student procrastinates on an assignment until the last minute. He messages his teacher in a panic and asks for an extension. The teacher gives him one extra day and docks his grade 10%. He asks for 3 days because he has sports practice this evening. His teacher replies that 3 days would reduce his grade 30%. The student stays up late, finishes the assignment (although not well!) and makes sure he doesn't miss assignments for that particular class again (but continues to turn in late assignments in his other classes with looser rules).

These are just a few examples of lessons learned through failure. The failure will be long forgotten, but the lesson that comes from it will be ingrained.

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