Contributed by Beth McCann and Jenna Long, Guidance Counselors
“Failures are the finger posts on the road to achievement.” -C.S. Lewis
In the precious years of young childhood, we often shelter our children from things we consider “bad.” In many arenas of the big world, this can serve our children well. However, there are times that our instinct to shield our children can keep them from learning valuable life lessons. A perfect example of this is failure. It can be so hard to watch our children struggle and fail, but the emotional growth that can be gleaned from these opportunities can be immeasurable. I often refer to these early failures as “speed bumps.” Speed bumps are just that: bumps. Experiencing these bumps in the road at an early age while the stakes are lower can offer a chance to develop strong character and solidify values.
Speed bumps can pop up in a variety of ways. Perhaps the bump in the road is a poor grade, a lie told, a friendship derailed, or a poor behavioral choice. Whatever challenge is presented, adults can help children see these as opportunities to build character. Traits such as resiliency and perseverance are vital to success in the broader world. Allowing natural consequences to happen will help teach a young child that he/she is capable of handling difficult situations and that he/she can do better next time. Failure does not have to be the end of the world. Supporting your child through conversation, mutual problem solving, and nurturing will help him/her feel empowered and a sense of “I can.”
Adversity can also help a child begin to solidify their values and gain a stronger sense of self. What type of friend does he or she want to have and be for others? What kind of student does he or she want to be? Experience with both success and failure can be extremely valuable teaching tools.
As we applaud our children’s success, let’s also help them view speed bumps through a lens of learning and growing. Failure is a part of the journey of growing up. While it may be difficult to watch our children experience adversity, it offers a terrific chance to learn valuable lessons about who your child wants to be in life. These core values and the ability to be resilient and persevere through the hard times are lessons that will undoubtedly stick with them far beyond their lower school years.