Failing can be a good thing.
I recently had a coaching conversation with a colleague. The night before, they had delivered a presentation that did not go as rehearsed.
They were mortified. But I was impressed with how they owned their “failure” and identified how they would’ve done it differently.
Fear of failure is natural. It’s certainly embedded in us as children and in today’s perfection obsessed world.
I grew up in a culture where failing is frowned upon. If I brought home a test score of 90%, I’d be asked where the other 10% was.
One of the best lessons I learned in adulthood is that failing can be a good thing and be one of life’s best teachers.
It is these moments that allow us the biggest growth and maturity.
Well, the good news for parents of special needs kids is that you will get plenty of opportunities to fail, almost on a daily basis.
Potty training that takes years. Super prepared plans for virtual schooling that go out the window. Outbursts in public that make you feel so judged by others.
But it is through these moments that I gain perspective, gratitude, resilience and even a sense of humour – sometimes at the expense of my ego and sanity.
Children with T’s prognosis – at-risk fetal alcohol syndrome – are often described as anxious.
We can see some of this anxiousness in T, including when it comes to schooling.
His Child and Youth Worker commented that he is often reluctant to participate during group activities, like circle time.
I see this very clearly during virtual learning, when I encourage him to put his hand up to share an answer he clearly knows, but he refuses.
We also see this when it comes to learning to read. When we try to practice his sight words or reading simple level books, he is very reluctant to sound out a word.
When I ask him to guess, he gets upset and frustrated and asks me just to say the word for him.
His CYW theorizes it has to do with his confidence and I tend to agree. I think he’s afraid of getting something wrong in front of others.
When he’s playing one of his online games, he gets very upset when he loses.
It’s almost hilarious how upset he gets to the point of calling the game all kind of names and vowing never to play it again.
Video games actually provide a wonderful metaphor about how failure is not final. You get to try again and through failing, you learn what not to do next time.
Just like we’re working on helping T process his emotions, we’re trying to teach him it’s ok when things don’t go as planned.
The hubby and I try to remind T it is important to try – and if he doesn’t get it right or win, it is no big deal. Just try again. But not trying is not an option in our family and in life.
T’s CYW is also trying to teach T about perseverance.
This week, they watched an online read aloud story together called Jabari Jumps, which tells the story of a boy who overcame his fear of heights to jump off a diving board.
Overcoming the fear of failing is a skill that takes a significant amount of time to learn. I’m 40 and still struggle with this on some days.
T is not often lacking in confidence but he does get anxious about trying something if he thinks he might not do well in it, especially if it’s in front of others.
And so, it’s something we’re gonna go work on together with him – to reinforce and to remind him that failing is not fatal. You can recover and will bounce back from most failures.