How kids can succeed even when they fail

By Gail Belsky

At a glance

  • Kids often feel shame when they fail at something.

  • Failing can be an opportunity for growth.

  • There are ways to help kids see wins even when they fail.

When kids do poorly on tests, projects, or activities, they can view it as a failure. And if it happens regularly, they can view themselves as a failure. That’s especially true of kids with learning differences or ADHD who have frequent setbacks.

But there are ways for kids to feel success even when they fail or something doesn’t go well. It all depends on how they view and respond to a negative result — both at the time and moving forward.

Kids often feel shame when they fail, instead of thinking about what went well and what went wrong. But failing is really an opportunity for growth and improvement. If kids see it that way and take positive steps, they can find positives in their “failure.”

Here are some of the wins that can come from failing at something: 

  • Trying new strategies
  • Learning about themselves
  • Taking risks
  • Seeing strengths and challenges
  • Self-advocating
  • Developing a growth mindset

Kids often need help seeing these positives and understanding how much value they have. 

When the adults in their lives point out and celebrate the positives, it can help change how kids feel about themselves and their potential. 

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    About the author

    About the author

    Gail Belsky is executive editor at Understood. She has written and edited for major media outlets, specializing in parenting, health, and career content.

    Reviewed by

    Reviewed by

    Andrew Kahn, PsyD is a licensed psychologist who has served as an evaluator and consultant in public schools for nearly 20 years.