Last fall, the New York Times ran an article entitled “What if the Secret to Success is Failure?” and it was the most emailed article for several days.
The author was looking at what character traits in children translate to the most successful, meaningful lives. Self control, zest, grit, curiosity, optimism, social intelligence and gratitude are among the most important traits to be fostering in our children. Such traits are much more important to their futures than GPAs or standardized testing. How do you help your children develop such traits?
One of the most important things you can do is let them fail. Don’t protect them and save them from the many little consequences of their actions.
Don’t argue with their teachers for deadline extensions.
Don’t drive their lunch or homework up to them when they forget it.
Don’t get them in on the birthday party they weren’t invited to.
Resilience, empathy, and responsibility are all going to be developed through disappointment and failure, the same way muscles are developed through heavy resistance.
So we have to let them work through those situations. Some empathy from you? Great. Fixing the situation? It will hurt your child in the long run.
Head of School
The Fulton School at St. Albans