Parenting Coach

Practical ideas for social, emotional and behavioral challenges

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Reframe failure and success.

What you can do

Help your child start thinking about success and failure in terms of being willing to try new things and getting better at them. Tell stories about your own life or about famous people who failed at something initially but kept working on it. One very visual example of this is an ice skater attempting a new kind of jump at the Olympics, falling the first time and then nailing it the next time.

Help your child understand that no one starts out being really good at everything. This includes her classmates, relatives and even her favorite pop stars. Get her to see that success comes from taking risks and trying hard.

What you can say

“Sofia, I remember how hard it was for me to learn how to ride a bike. I would have fallen over about 800 million times if your grandmother hadn’t been running alongside me and steadying the bike as soon as I started to tip over.”

“Poor Grandma! She spent so many afternoons hunched over my bike—what a backache I must have given her! But she was so proud when I finally figured out how to put all the pieces together and balance on the bike while pushing the pedals and steering the handlebars.”

“As I was learning how to ride the bike, I’m sure I thought, ‘Oh no, this is too complicated. I’m never going to be able to do this.’ But I kept trying. That’s how I measure success, by how much you keep trying.”

Why this will help

Kids sometimes see failing once at a new activity as a sign that they will never be good at that activity. They may also see failure at one task as a sign that they’ll fail at every other kind of task too. You can help your child think differently about failure and how it is often the first step on the road to success.

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