Let Your Teen Fail

I recently was inspired by attending a discussion for parents with Jessica Laher about the ideas from her book “The Gift of Failure.”

The book highlights how many parents do not allow their kids to fail, struggle and help themselves.
They often are misguided by their desire to make their kids happy and protect them from frustration.
Research has shown that kids whose parents don’t allow them to fail are less motivated, less enthusiastic and less successful than children whose parents have supported their autonomy.

Jessica Laher suggests a style of parenting called Autonomy-Supportive. The most important aspect of this kind of parenting is to help your child develop intrinsic motivation.

This parenting style includes:

  1. Offering support, not control
  2. Using goals and strategies developed by the kids themselves
  3. Treat failures as opportunities for growth
  4. Rescuing kids is a lesson lost (which sends a message that you don’t believe they have the ability to find the solution for themselves)

What if parents were to encourage and or allow the long-term process of learning over the importance of grades?  What if parents asked their kids what they learned rather than what grade they got or and responded to an A the same as with failing grade?

What I took away from Jessica Lahey’s talk was the important reminder of how necessary it is to allow our kids to struggle, and that the most learning, growth and development come from their ability to gain competence through this process, while parents are right there offering support.

Research shows that people learn and retain the most when they have experienced frustration in the process. 

So let your kids get frustrated, and know you are being a great parent!

-Paige Oszmanski, LCSW

Licensed Therapist

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