Challenging believers in Jesus to think and act based on Bible truth.

Think and Act 4.30.14 – The Importance of Failure for Kids

Over the past couple months I’ve been going to our son’s elementary school to help in his classroom. My main way of helping has involved working with students to better their skills at counting money. I usually work with 2-3 students and present them with several money counting challenges and scenarios.

After I was done a few weeks ago, the teacher and I got into a conversation about some of my techniques. She noticed how I gave them a goal that required trial and error (such as finding five coins that equaled 25 cents). I would encourage the kids as they worked and tried various solutions. Eventually, they would get there. Keep in mind, they’re second graders and it’s not as simple as dividing 25 by 5.

My point? They needed to fail. After failing, they needed to try something else. And she agreed, saying that for so many they expect themselves to pick everything up quickly and without effort.

What lessons can our kids learn from failure? Here are three. Maybe you will come up with more.

1. Failure teaches problem solving.

How big is the number of inventions that have succeeded after first versions failed and needed revision? Better yet, who did their Algebra homework in pen? Problem solving skills can come from failure and retrying.

2. Failure shows kids their weaknesses.

Let’s face it. Not everybody is good at sports. If a child learns they’re not as good as someone else, or their team isn’t as good as someone else, then they learn a valuable lesson. Either hard work to get better is inspired, or, if the reality is bleak (ability is low), the child could re-direct their energy to pursuits that better fit their strengths.

Either way, a trophy for being 8th place doesn’t accomplish much (personal beef there, sorry).

3. Failure can teach humility if channeled properly.

If failure is over-emphasized, it can certainly damage self esteem. But, handled as a teaching tool, failure can lead to humility. Do we think humility comes easy? Many could testify that occasional lop-sided losses, bombed school assignments, or getting edged in a competition have brought positive things into their lives and built solid character throughout the years. Lessons learned from these things do take time but can aid the development of humility.

Think. How has failure shaped you? How should it shape your kids? Anything you’d add to my list?

Act. Use the failures to teach in these and other effective ways you may think through.

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