Let your kids fail so they can win!


This principle is becoming clearer and more important as our children get older! Here it is...

One of the best things you can do for your kids is to LET THEM FAIL IN A SAFE ENVIRONMENT!

What is a "SAFE ENVIRONMENT"? An environment where the injury will not do life-altering damage. For instance, letting your child get a bad grade on a test because they refused to study. It will "hurt" them... but not destroy them. It's much better to learn responsibility in the home where they can cry and make some corrections than it is to learn the same lesson an adult in the workplace where they can be fired!


A while ago I was reading some Army Leadership material and came across a quote from General Omar Bradley that ABSOLUTELY gets to the point of what we believe about parenting:

"Judgment comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgment."

With that in mind, let me tell you a few things about this principle:

  1. It is very difficult to watch your child fail when you KNOW you could help them succeed.

  2. It is difficult and important to NOT say, "I told you so." This is particularly true when your child is defiant pre-failure! This is not the time to gloat!

  3. It is important to recognize that the PAIN of failure is the most significant and memorable teacher they will have... so do not rush to minimize the pain (obvious exceptions include a bone sticking through the skin) ;-)

  4. If your child does not fail now she WILL fail later when you're not there to help her rebound... and it will be significantly worse!

So, how do you let your child fail? Here are a couple of ideas:

  1. Have clear and agreed-upon expectations for your children and your family so that they know what is expected of them BEFORE they decide to "do their own thing." We have an entire e-book that addresses this - Baby Step #5: Do Discipline That Works.

  2. There is nothing wrong with a warning or pre-failure guidance. Don't just let them "walk into traffic" to learn a lesson. Teach them... give them guidance... and if they insist on going against your counsel that's when the lesson is learned.

  3. Let them know the consequences of failure. Here's a real-life scenario: bedtime is 8:00 for our younger girls. One of them knows she has a test tomorrow. We tell her she ought to study for the test. She chooses instead to play with her friends. At bedtime, she wants to stay up later and study. The answer is "No." She chose to play instead of study. The likely consequence is that she is not going to do as well on her test. We could have spent a lot of energy finding her and forcing her to study. Instead, we decided to give her a safe place to fail. The next time this happens she will remember this incident and will be more likely to take some time to study.

  4. Do NOT "reap what they sowed." Let them feel the weight of their bad decision. If you intervene and bear the weight of their decisions they will continue to make them! Proverbs 19:19 says, "Hot-tempered people must pay the penalty. If you rescue them once, you will have to do it again." It is the same for children, if you reap what they sowed they will keep sowing! Let pain be their teacher. I know it sounds tough, but think about the lessons you only had to learn once... most of them had some pain involved! #youdonttouchahotstovetwice

OK, so there it is... now your job is to go home and remember...

One of the best things you can do for your kids is to LET THEM FAIL IN A SAFE ENVIRONMENT!