fear-of-failure

Often, nobody is harder on you than you. It’s the way we’ve been raised, to fear failing, that one failure dooms us to “suck at doing ____” forever. Nothing could be more wrong, more damaging, and be more intellectually inhibiting to a child than teaching them that failure is forever. Yes, you can prevent your child from failing and it will have much the same effect as if you had prevented them from walking for fear of them falling down.

Moreover, all that extra love and support doesn’t make up for over-parenting and interfering in your kid’s development. Children who have helicopter parents have higher levels of anxiety and less ability to adapt to new situations, vastly lower levels of satisfaction with their basic psychological needs, and feel less competent and confident versus their peers. They don’t develop coping skills, or basic life skills that will help them to successful and independent adult lives. Parents don’t mean to do this, they may not even be aware that they are helicoptering. There are a variety of factors that can trigger helicopter behaviors.

  • Parenting Olympics: Parenting has become a competitive sport that is less about the children than it is about the parent. This is not about getting a gold medal in parenting, it’s about teaching your kids to go for their own gold.
  • “IT’S IN YOUR PERMANENT RECORD!” Low grades, not being picked for the team, or not getting a certain award can look like an impending disaster. Of course, you want to fix it. However the question is how much fixing the situation needs, or if the situation is as it appears.
  • Projection: If the economy is uncertain, if your job is not secure, if the world in general seems to have it out for you, your first instinct is to exert everything you have to protect your child. You want to keep them from fear and worry, from being hurt, and it’s easy to cross the line.
  • Overcompensation: If you were bullied, abused, neglected, or felt unloved as a child, you may overcompensate in an effort to patch the pain you still feel. Parents who did not have a healthy upbringing are often still trying to parent and nurture themselves, too.

There have been truly brilliant people who have failed many times on their way to success, and think how much poorer our lives today would be without them!

  • JK Rowling: Turned down by twelve publishers, and told to get a day job because she’d never make money in the children’s/YA market, she is now worth in excess of $1 billion and gave a TED talk on the benefits of failure.
  • Steve Jobs: Some of his projects tanked hard, but he is responsible for some of the most iconic and widely used products in 21st century life. Even Pixar – which Jobs considered a failure and tried to unload was purchased by Disney in 2006 for $7.4 billion.
  • Albert Einstein: “Failure is success in progress.” He was brilliant, but frustrated with the method of teaching, and was considered to be developmentally delayed because of speech issues. He had problems finding work in adulthood, but he went on to become one of the pre-eminent physicists of all time.
  • Vera Wang: Failed to make the 1968 Olympic figure skating team. Was passed over for the Editor-in-Chief position at Vogue. Began to design wedding gowns at age 40. Now the head of a fashion empire worth in excess of $1 billion.
  • Lady Gaga: Dropped by Def Jam, her success came as a complete surprise to L.A. Reid. Her last album “Artpop” was panned as a flop compared to “Born This Way”, but still entered Billboard 100 at #1 and sales remained strong.
  • Jay-Z: Turned down by label after label, Jay-Z founded his own label, and put out his own albums and later sold his label to Def Jam for millions. Owns the Brooklyn Nets, and co-owns or cofounded companies like Carol’s Daughter and Rocaware – both sold for millions to other companies.
  • Howard Schultz: CEO of Starbucks and owner of the Seattle Supersonics joined the company when it had only four stores, was turned down for financing 217 of the 242 times he tried.

When you fear failing, or you fear other parents judging you or your child, look at what failure can do. You can call failing down a failure at walking, but it is an essential step to learning how to walk!