Why we need to let kids fail.

There is currently an emphasis on teaching children perseverance and resilience in education and parenting.  What does that mean and why is it important?  

Perseverance involves sticking with a task until mastery despite difficulties or failures.

 “Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity.  Resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have.  It involves behaviors, thoughts, and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone.” 

As Angela Duckworth states in her book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

 “Our potential is one thing. What we do with it is quite another.”

Resilient children are those that are not afraid to make mistakes and understand that challenges can be overcome with a little effort.  The development of resilient children sets the stage for successful, lifelong learners.  One way to foster resilience is to value the effort rather than the end result. 

The teachers at SFNS provide daily opportunities for children to take risks, try new (sometimes hard) things, make decisions, and learn from their mistakes.  We offer opportunities to see struggles as opportunities to learn.  Our learning through play philosophy creates the backdrop for building resilience and perseverance.  Play allows children to try and to fail.  They construct the knowledge of how to do it differently or better through the experience.   

Our responses to their efforts also promote the value of the process.  Rather than saying “good job”, or “you are so smart”, we work to make an observation based on facts, such as:

o    Wow! You tried really hard on that.

o    You did it on your own.

o    You never gave up!

o    I like the way you are doing X

o    You made it really big/small/colorful/complicated/etc.

o    That took you a long time, and you did it!

o    I like how you worked with a friend to make that happen

o    How did you do that?

o    What a creative way to solve that problem.

o    I’m so proud you made that choice

“There needs to be a lot more emphasis on what a child CAN do rather than what they cannot do.”  Temple Grandin

Allowing children to learn through play and work through the challenges they encounter will create adults who will persevere despite obstacles, solve big problems, and succeed when life contains road blocks.