How to teach children to take risks and encourage failures

Looking at an adult life, I find most of the stress is coming from a fear to disappoint other people. I would love my children to grow up differently and understand what makes them happy and be OK with making mistakes while they are trying to sort it out.

Unfortunately, most of the schools do not encourage making mistakes. So we have to do more work at home as parents to teach children to take risks and celebrate failures as a part of growing up and building self-knowledge and resilience.  

Here are my three suggestions for parents to encourage children to take risks and be OK with mistakes:

1. Read the books that show that mistakes are OK and most of success stories did have few trials and errors, such as

·         The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Mark Pett  

·         Printable sheets from Big Life Journal about famous failures:

2. Have family ritual to encourage risks and celebrating mistakes.

I love an example of Sara Blakely who became a billionaire after inventing Spanx. Everybody ridiculed her idea when she came out with it.  What helped her not to give up? Among other things, when she was a child, her father used to ask her and her brother to tell the things they failed at every week.  If they had nothing to share, it meant that they have taken no risks that week and have not learnt much.

You can start a similar tradition at your house of asking your kids on a weekly basis about their risk takings and mistakes and what they learnt from it.

3. Reward an effort not the result.

Psychologist Carol Dweck studied the way that children respond to praise and set up an experiment to research this. She gave students a simple verbal puzzle to solve. After the students finished the puzzle, they were given one sentence of praise: half were told “you must be smart at this” and the other half were told “you must have worked really hard.” The students were then offered the choice of two more puzzles: one that was simple, like the one that they had just taken and another that was described as hard, but that they’d learn a lot from doing it. Of the children who had been praised for their effort, 90% chose the more difficult puzzle. Of the children who were praised for their intelligence, most went for the easy test. This led Dweck to come up with the theory of growth mindsets.

Celebrating failures, does not mean not to have high expectations from your child. It is important to express to your child that you expect them to achieve a lot in their life as they are highly capable. But they will need to learn what makes them happy which only can be done through trials and errors. And you will be there to support and guide them through this journey.  

anya abdulakh2 Comments