There’s an epidemic in our culture. Have you heard of the ‘fear of failure flu?’
Early symptoms include sweaty palms and a knot in the stomach. Those in the middles stages of the ‘disease’ have an intense focus on ‘resume building’ — children’s activities are no longer for fun but become accomplishments that will somehow separate some important future application from the rest of the pack. A form of paralysis (that keeps kids from trying new things at which they might not instantly excel) is a symptom only visible in the later stages of the disease.
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Parents who want to teach kids to value effort for its own sake start with themselves. They start with their own fears. Everyone fails from time to time; when we don’t it’s often because we’re not stretching far enough!
To vaccinate your kids against the ‘fear of failure flu’ a careful self-examination may be in order. After all, to thrive, a virus needs a carrier and a hospitable environment. As parents, it’s important that we take steps to make sure we’re not ‘carriers’ of the very behavior we’re trying to help our kids avoid!
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For example, if you’re too hard on yourself when you ‘come up short’ do you hide that fact from your children? Could you, instead, share the fact that you — and they — are human beings with a lot to learn and there will always be times in life when we fail at something we care about? There is strength in learning to view setbacks as learning.
Which outlook is supported by the environment that your kids are in?