Photo by Keren Fedida on Unsplash

Nobody basks in making mistakes, not adults and especially not children. It can be embarrassing knowing there’s something people lack. However, when children acknowledge the benefits of failure, that’s when real growth begins.

Failure is pesky, especially in the eyes of children.

Not knowing what’s next in their ABCs, putting a shape in the inappropriate slot, and giving a wrong answer on a recitation. The list goes for the possible mistakes children can make. But contrary to how long this list can be is how shorter, their patience seems to become regarding errors.

Sure, failure can be pesky. But the benefits of failure are also necessary for growth and learning. Unfortunately, children are too young, responsive, and sensitive to understand this concept.

Life can be likened to a field of landmines, and children are merely crawling all over the place, unknowing where things can set off. For adults, these blasts are only prompts telling them a pattern of where it’s safe and unsafe. But these can be painful and frustrating to children. And unless they’re told, they won’t realize the value behind these wrong decisions. From a child’s perspective, mistakes are nothing but awful events hindering them from achieving their goals.

Benefits of Failure: Children vs Failure

Regardless of how much of a genius, successful and capable someone is, failure is inevitable. At some point in their lives, they’re bound to commit a mistake that they would need to be able to deal with. The development of this grit starts in childhood when people are like empty canvases yet to learn basic structures that would help them avoid mistakes.

However, it’s also during childhood that people are susceptible to meltdowns.

Studies have established that children subconsciously perceive themselves as incompetent when they fail, leading to lower self-esteem. While this risk exists, and as much as parents want to cushion their children from developing self-doubt, it would be more beneficial to let them experience failure. These benefits of loss aren’t anything novel. But, as they’re only achieved after seeing children in pain, most parents aren’t open to considering them.

Children stay unaware of the benefits of failure and become afraid of it, perhaps not because they don’t like how they feel about experiencing it. But because of how society has constantly associated mistakes with incompetence. It’s their parent’s fear and anxiety about mistakes that make them fear it, as well.

In Caroleann Rice’s Solomon Snail Goes to the Beach, readers are introduced to a character that’s transparent and shameless about their shortcomings. Instead of shying away or being frustrated by their faults, Good old Big Bill banks on his lack of wisdom to learn from others and experience new things. He knew he wasn’t as intelligent as his friends, but he was humble enough to acknowledge his lapses. And although this is from a fictional character, this should be how children are.

After All, Failure Is Powerful

People’s biggest mistakes probably taught them more than their biggest successes.

Failure is powerful, not in the sense of bringing someone’s self-esteem down. Instead, it can be perceived as a stepping tool toward familiarity and proficiency. After all, nobody is born fluent or a genius. It takes resilience and determination to be as competent as one wants, and the journey toward that goal includes many mistakes.

Failure doesn’t only teach people right from wrong. It goes beyond correcting errors and instills in people values they couldn’t have encountered if they stayed tethering within the bounds of safety.

The benefits of failure extend to more than competence and accuracy. Instead, failure is one’s guide toward courage, wisdom, and strength, for it is only accepting and welcoming mistakes that encourage one to think outside the box and live life with a bigger perspective. Failure helps build confidence and self-esteem that can’t be easily shaken with minor flaws.

If children aren’t allowed to experience mistakes now, society only sets them up to crumble in the “real world,” where things don’t adjust to their sensitivity. When parents aren’t too protective of them, they’re allowed a bigger space to flutter their wings and learn to be flexible and creative. Failure and mistakes may thump their flight sometimes, but the resilience they’ve developed in welcoming these will allow them to fly again.

Still, It Doesn’t Make Children Indestructible

Although parents must help children not get upset over their failures, this doesn’t mean they aren’t allowed to be sad over them. After all, it’s one thing to empower children and another to invalidate their emotions. When committing mistakes, children should be welcome to cry. They can weep. But most importantly, they must learn to stand up and dust themselves off without doubting their ability to try again.

Sadness for a bit of mess-up is valid. It should be welcomed; else, people are only putting themselves at risk of creating an even more negative perspective about mistakes to children.

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