Let Your Child Fail - Spectacularly!

Teesta Sisodia-Sullivan, February 23, 2021

I had a fascinating conversation with an ex-professional player this morning.  He brought up how one of the biggest challenges he sees in the younger generation of footballers is their lack of resilience.

He feels that we are raising an entire generation of youth who don’t know how to deal with rejection.  These kids don’t understand that setbacks can be temporary and opportunities for growth.  Instead, they view a failure as an end and many don’t know how to deal with this.

I blame it on our society’s love of participation trophies and celebrations of every single achievement a child experiences.  I am fully behind giving every 3, 4 or 5 yr old a trophy at the end of their soccer season.  My kids’ shelves still boast these.  But at what point should we stop?

It reminds me of the line from the Incredibles movie “When everyone’s a winner, no one is.”

Some young athletes have been so coddled by their parents and coaches that they take the smallest setback as a personal attack on their ability or - worse, as someone else being unfair to them.  

How can we expect to raise confident athletes unless we allow our children to fail?  They have to know they are not always the best, and that everyone is not always equal.   There will always be someone who is stronger, faster, smarter than them.  This should be seen as incentive for them to work harder and develop their individual skills and strengths.  

They need to know that a lost game, a failed attempt does not define THEM.  It is just a moment in time.  

We should not allow our children to blame others for their performance, it will hamper their ability to be resilient, strong, independent young people.  We have to allow them to learn accountability for their own actions.  This will also teach them to appreciate their own effort.

Sometimes, you try hard, give your best and still lose.  Yes, soccer is a team sport and no one person can win or lose a game but we can’t make excuses when our children don't perform, and as parents we shouldn't allow them to blame others.

There’s a difference between acknowledging that everyone can have a bad day or be in a slump and encouraging children to believe someone else was to blame for their performance.  I can’t say how many times I’ve heard referees berated for a call.  Was the ref wrong?  Sometimes, I believe they were, but isn’t that a lesson too? 

Life Isn't Always Fair!

I have always loved the statement “Hard Work Beats Talent When Talent Doesn’t Work Hard.”  Unless you are challenged, where is the incentive to truly work hard?

Without failure, how does one know what they are capable of overcoming?  How much they are willing to push themselves?  What they are truly capable of.

If you truly want to help your child, allow them to experience failing at something.  They will be stronger for it.

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