How to Deal with Fear of Failure in Children

Have you ever wondered how to prevent fear of failure in your children? Whether it is math tests at school, drawing or a sports club, our children’s world is getting more and more competitive.

Though some may say that kids today are quite lucky because they are given lots of opportunities to develop their full potential, there is also the fact that children are bombarded with all kinds of choices and information, that some of them feel very much pressured to do well.

They are afraid of not measuring up against their parents’ and peers’ expectations – they fear failure because society today demands so much of them, that they’re not sure if they can cope.

When children fear failure, it can cause them to avoid the activity altogether or hesitate to give their best.

For example, even if they know they should practice their times tables, their fear of failure makes them refuse to take the necessary steps. Or they decide to aim for an easier goal so they know they won’t fail.

Also, children who fear failure can become perfectionists who experience shame and embarrassment whenever they fail at something. They end up either pressuring themselves harder to succeed, to the point of it affecting their physical and mental health, or avoiding the activity completely so they don’t experience these negative emotions, causing them to miss out on an opportunity to learn something new.

As a parent, you don’t want your child to experience this fear of failure. You want your children to see failure and making mistakes as a natural and valuable part of life, since it helps them learn and gives them the motivation to do better in the future. You want them to always do their best, and if they fail, to move on from it and know that they’ve learned something new. As the saying goes, “It’s better to have tried and failed, then to never have tried at all.”

So how do you deal with fear of failure in children? What are the steps you can take to ensure that your kids don’t feel this way?

Change their perception of failure

A good way to remove your children’s fear of failure is to change their perception of it. Let them know that if they tried something and didn’t succeed, it doesn’t mean that they failed since they learned something from it and could always try again.

Failure is what happens when they don’t even attempt to do something, because then they don’t have the opportunity to learn something new. Remind them of this in whatever activity they do, may it be taking a test, joining a contest, or auditioning for a play.

Help them accept that mistakes are a part of life

Remind your children that nobody’s perfect; that even you, their parent, isn’t perfect and continues to make mistakes in life. Let them know that it’s okay to make mistakes, because you actually learn better when you do. You can even share your own experience with them of making a mistake and what you learned from what happened. This can help them see things in a new way that they never thought of before.

Reduce fear of failure by praising both successes AND failures

Your appreciation and encouragement mean the world to your child. You are the one who motivates them to do their best and guides them in learning new things. So remember not to only praise your child’s success, but his failures as well. Even if he didn’t come out on top, let him know that you’re proud of him because you know he did his best.

In fact, if you truly want to motivate your child, be sure to praise their efforts rather than their abilities.

Deal with fear of failure in your own life, too

You are your child’s greatest role model. It is healthy for all of us to have a healthy outlook on life and not allow fear of failure to rule over us. So don’t worry about appearing perfect to your child or covering up your own mistakes. There is no such thing as the perfect human being. There is no perfect child, and therefore no perfect parent, either. Relax!

Kids nowadays feel so much pressure from school and society, that it’s very important that you, as the parent, put things in perspective for them and help them cope.

Make sure to always take the time to talk to them about their problems and concerns so they can be either addressed or at least acknowledged.

Success is most of all enjoying the journey, not just achieving the end goal – that way fear of failure will play a much smaller role in life.

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