FAILURE IS A LEARNING EXPERIENCE
by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families
Whoever said there is no such thing as failure has lost touch with reality! Of course there is such a thing. It is in the dictionary. It means 'nonperformance of something due or expected' (Random House Dictionary). You can't gloss over the word and call it something else just because society thinks it is a dirty word. To refuse to accept the word is senseless and a product of our indulgent culture. By doing this we are not allowing ourselves to learn from the experience or to teach our children how to deal with the situation when they do not meet expectations - whatever they are.
When we were in high school in New Zealand we had to pass a State-wide exam. Only 50% were allowed to pass in order to keep the standards high, so there was obviously a 50% failure rate. It made us work very hard and we all knew that if we didn't make it, we had to repeat the whole year again. I repeated the year! Brian repeated a year. His two brothers repeated a year. This is reality. If you don't do the work, you don't pass. It didn't hurt us. It actually taught us how important it is to try hard, not to just scrape through, but to excel. If we don't learn early that there are consequences for not meeting expectations, then we will never make it in the adult work world. We will always be making excuses that it was someone else's fault. No it isn't. We put in the hard yards and enjoy the results. Brian, his brothers and I became university graduates and we would not have had so great a resolve to succeed had we not learned through failure in early exams.
Now, there are times when we have little choice over whether we win or lose. We can train vigorously for a race, but we cannot guarantee we will be the winner. It is wrong for parents to give kids the message that if you are not the winner, you are a failure. That is NOT true. In that case we should not compare ourselves with others, but determine how much our own performance may have improved. If we are beating our own times, then we are achieving.
Children will learn a positive attitude in regard to failing when they see how we face it. If we throw a fit, get all miserable or give up, that is what our kids will do. We have to teach them that failure is inevitable in our lives. Sometimes we set our kids up for failure because we try to make them do things we couldn't do ourselves. We all have different abilities and we should always encourage our children to excel at what they show potential for.
Everyone in the world will have a story of failure. Some use failure as a sentence of doom, while others, like us, say, "I am not going to let this beat me, I will learn from it and move on!" and they rise to it. How do you see it?
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