Monday, September 30, 2013

Why We Should Let Our Kids Fail

I am going to let my children fail.   I don't want them to fail; I want them to be successful and happy and even safe but if, or I should say when, the time comes I will let them fail.
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In a society of participation trophies where everyone is a winner too many parents are killing their children with self-esteem and making sure no one feels left out.  Now don't get me wrong, I very much believe kids should feel successful and take pride in their accomplishments, but in their accomplishments that they worked hard for, not because they just showed up.

Recently in Utah, high school football coach Matt Labrum got wind of some cyber bullying happening from members of his football team, he also heard of kids skipping class, failing grades and being disrespectful to teachers so what did he do?   He suspended the entire team.
Matt Labrum with his team- picture from here
Now you can imagine the outcry that this caused from the parents who thought it wasn't fair, the school who wondered what would happen to their football season.... oh wait this didn't happen.  In fact the exact opposite happened.  The community, the school, and even the parents supported the coach in his decision.  He made the players do community service, and earn their way back onto the team.

Let's contrast this to what happened recently in New York.  On Labor Day weekend over 300 high school aged kids broke into the empty second home of former NFL lineman Brian Holloway.  They threw an enormous beer-filled party where they vandalized the home, even peeing on the floor and causing over $20,000 in damages.  During the party many of these kids tweeted and shared pictures of what was happening at the party, incriminating themselves.

Holloway, a father himself, rather than press charges started a website where he started posting the pictures that the teens themselves had already shared and asked for all of these kids to come back to his home and help repair the damages.  Sounds more than reasonable and even pretty lucky he didn't press charges, right?   Well not only did NONE of the kids show up to fix their damages but the parents are suing Holloway for putting the pictures on a website and hurting their kids reputations.  Some of the news organizations then even tried to turn it on Holloway pointing out that this is his second home that he is about to lose to foreclosure and it was already damaged, so he was just trying to get some money.

The difference in these two stories are astounding.  I don't think any of us doubt which kids are going to learn a lesson, which kids are going to think twice before they act.

Sometimes no matter how hard we try, how many lessons we try and teach, kids are going to mess up.  What distinguishes a good parent from a bad parent is what they do when their kids mess up.  Do they protect them and try and blame it on someone else?  Or do they say yes you messed up and now you are dealing with the consequences.

I am going to let my kids fail, I am going to let them fail now while they are young and while the consequences really aren't too serious or long lasting.  I am going to let them learn what this feels like, learn that there are consequences, learn that they will be held responsible for their actions so that someday when they are out in the real world, when their actions matter even more they will know. They will know that they need to work hard, be honest and kind, and that they are responsible for what they do.

I am going to let my kids fail.

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Linking up with Shell

34 comments:

  1. It really does come down to how the parents react. I'm so appalled at the parents of the kids who were at that party. Their kids are never going to learn any responsibility.

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    1. I know! I mean really what do they think they are doing for their children?

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  2. Wow. Such a difference. I'm going through a version of this......Carter spending his allowance irresponsibly. It's taking every bit of patience in me to keep letting him make mistakes.......he will learn from them!

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    1. Oh yes! My kids have also spent their money on dumb cheap things or when they were saving for something then bought something else too soon; but yes when the cheap little toy breaks, when they no longer have the money for the thing they really wanted then they learn. It is hard and I try and guide them and remind them, but ultimately I let them decide as they need to learn

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  3. I absolutely am in agreement with you. Kids need to learn to take responsibility for their actions. I would have been appalled if my children had been involved in anything like that, and they certainly would be owning up to their actions and be cleaning it up. I think it is a shame that so many parents give their children a "pass" because they don't want something to reflect on their official record...in the end they are not doing them any favors.

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    1. Yes if it were my kids they would be down there to fix things up for sure and then there would have been a whole lot more consequences for being at a party like that in the first place.

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  4. Yes, yes and yes some more! I am also going to let my kids fail. And have consequences! Especially when they are home and I am here to help them learn. It makes me so sad that the parents of those New York kids wouldn't be dragging their kids to that house and making them clean up. I am proud of that Utah coach and the parents who supported him! Bravo!

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    1. Yes, when they are young that is when they need to learn as otherwise the real world is going to be very harsh place.

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  5. I'm with you girl. All the way!

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  6. OMG.... I can't believe that the parents turned it back on to the football player!! That is insane... those kids will never learn a lesson. Ever.

    The Utah football coach = awesome.

    It's good to let kids fail once in a while. They have to learn how to deal with different situations and if they don't know how to fail or what to do when it happens life is going to be rather difficult for them. They'll end up acting like their entitled to things.

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    1. Yes and there are definitely way too many entitled people today and it is not going to get better anytime soon if this kind of thing keeps happening

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  7. While I have seen much coverage of the football coach in Utah--good on him btw--I was completely unaware of the gross behavior of the kids in New York. We have to let them fail, it shows them life isn't perfect. It teaches them how to make better choices. We can't go around sheltering them.

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    1. Yes, I was so disturbed when I read about the New York stuff, so awful

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  8. Letting your kids fail and face the consequences of their actions is one thing that is totally lost on most of the parents now a days. When I was a scoutmaster, I let my scouts fail all of the time. I made sure they always got home in one piece and I never put them in danger, but I let them make mistakes all the time. A great example, one year a scout didn't want to go to his merit badge classes as often as he should and as a result he earned 1 merit badge and a bunch of partials.

    His parents were upset I did not force him to go. I had to tell them, it is not within my power to force them to go. I encouraged him to go, but ultimately it was his decision and when I noticed he didn't go, I talked with him about it. The natural consequences of his actions were he did not get the badges and he got in trouble at home. The following year at camp and when we did things at scouts, he did what he was supposed to and earned his advancements.

    On the soccer field coaching, a number of times I have seen parents who yell to their kids, do this, move here, kick now and then the parent gets distracted and the kid can't make a single decision. We should not be raising little robots. We should be teaching them and when they mess up, deal with it appropriately.

    What if I and the scouts parents had forced him to do everything and let his first experience with consequences been when he was in college or at a job and he got fired/failed?

    I also spoke with another scoutmaster and he said he had many parents who took issue with his style as scoutmaster. He watched the kids fail at things many times over. Assignments would be given and sometimes forgotten and then kids would have bad camping experiences or have to rush at last minute to deal with it. Some parents want to hold the kids hand and stand by them in everything and make sure they never screw up and NEVER LEARN in the process.

    Step in if it will harm them or others, don't let a crazed adult come screaming at a child in an inappropriate way and other circumstances you need to step in, but if you can, you have to leave them to their own accords and learn to deal with the consequences of life. To do anything less as a parent means you are failing as a parent.

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    1. Yes! so well said, we need to let them fail and we cannot do it all for them; they need to learn.

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  9. I wholeheartedly agree with you! I want to help my kids as much as I possibly can, but at the same time...I know that constantly enabling them is only setting me up to be their crutch. I think kids need to have some failures, makes some mistakes...otherwise, they are never going to learn the right way to do things.

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    1. Yes! I want them to be able to make those mistakes and fail while I am still here to help them through it and before the consequences are something long lasting.

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  10. I was so proud of that coach when I read that news story! It is so hard to let my kids fail, but I am with you. I have to step back and let them get hurt and it is hard!

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    1. Yes that coach was so awesome and I am so glad they community supported him in it

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  11. Yes, yes, yes! I am not a fan of participation trophies, I just don't like teaching kids that all you have to do is show up. I worry about how they will handle loss when they finally experience it.

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    1. Yes! The real world does not have participation trophies

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  12. I totally, totally agree with everything you said in this post!!! Not a fan of participation awards...our society is all about feelings these days and so worried about someone being left out. Newsflash that's not how the real world works so why are you going to set them up that way??? And yes kids need to know that their consequences when they do wrong especially when we are in such a virtual world and once it is out there...it's out there.

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    1. Yes!! They need to learn before they are in the real world as that is not how it operates so if they don't learn as kids when are they going to learn?

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  13. I completely agree. I have seen parents get so upset over things that do not even matter in the grand scheme of things all so their kid can be the winner or on the winning team. I never got any participation trophies when I played, or really stood there, softball. It seems to always be someone else's fault as well. Kids aren't held accountable and parents don't think anything of it.

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    1. Yes! I think too many parents want to live through their kids and want to shelter them and protect them from everything and want them to always win, that is not life!

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  14. Failing is a part of life. Too many kids,like your example,are raised thinking somone is always going to bail them out. Then they hit the real world and ohhhh wait that's not how life works. I would rather teach my kids responsibility than learning to take the easy way out or blame others.

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  15. Thank you so much for posting this. Not only do I agree but I feel discriminated for thinkung this way
    Most parents we know say how hard we are on our kids. We are very living and caring but when it comes to their poor choices we believe in learning via consequences as most times it is a result of not listening or following what we teach them to.
    This needs to begin at an early age. Today I am responsible for making of my kids great citizens of the world who will thrive in their lives but give back to their communities. The only way to get their is via respect tolerance understanding and education and definitively not by handing them everything.

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  16. Someone needs to have those parents in NY heads examined. Seriously, especially when those students incriminated themselves.

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    1. I know! I could not believe it! The parents should be glad he was going to let their kids off easy!

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  17. I think in order to prepare our kids for the real world, in which failure does happen on a regular basis, we have to let them fail. It's part of learning and growing up. And the great thing is, we can do so in a controlled enviornment. We can let them fail when we know what the repercussions are and how they will be received. This "everyone wins" mentality just drives me crazy!!

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    1. Yes exactly!! You said it perfectly and yes we truly do protect them by letting them learn and by failing not by always helping them "win"

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  18. You are so right! Failure is part of life, and it makes us stronger. We have to learn to deal with it. I hate that the gov't is taking over so many things b/c it won't let people make their own decisions (good or bad.) It does all people a disservice to shield them from hardship and disappointment. You go, girl!

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