As I am reading the book, the “Gift of Failure”, by Jessica Lahey, I am questioning my parenting style and how to strike the right balance. I have been a firm believer of making my children independent and about empowering them within a support structure and slowly reducing the dependence on that structure.
One of the first things that parents struggle with is seeing our child disappointed or upset. We then try our best to “fix it” so we can protect our children from heartache. My daughter had accidentally dropped her friend’s phone which the friend had left on the table. The phone screen that fell cracked and my daughter came home to tell me that she felt responsible and that she had offered to pay for the replacement phone screen. Her friend was going to let her know how much it cost and she would take the money to school the next day. The friend came back to say that it cost $180 to replace the screen. This amount was almost all of my daughter’s savings and she was really upset with herself for being careless. It was even harder for me to stand back and watch as she took the money to school braving that she had nothing left in her savings. It would have been easier to tell her that I would pay for it and hope she would learn her lesson for next time. But the lesson she had to learn this time, although painful, was one she learnt well. I do not regret it in hind sight but it was very, very difficult to stand back and watch at the time.
Another incident that made me stop and change the way I managed the situation was, when my daughter had a sleepover with her friends. She and her friends wanted to build a fort and I was very quick in giving advice and ideas and then had to catch myself and say, “Why don’t you guys try and work it out as a team.” This made the girls more determined and the discussions that ensued was very focused on getting the fort up. It took a lot of discipline on my part to stand back, keep quiet and allow them to fail and succeed. At the end of the night these four girls were triumphant that they had put up the fort and felt very proud of themselves.
At the end of the day, I feel it is worth standing back and empowering our children to fail, try again and fail better. This is what they will need in the real world. This is how we can create intrinsic motivation in our young ones. It is the building blocks for a growth mindset.