Many teens believe that their inability to reach a goal undermines their value as a person.
There are those who don’t even try, believing that while trying and failing reflects poorly on their abilities, not trying and failing keeps their self-worth intact. And then there are those who accept failure as their default mode. To them, their repeated failures indicate that they have no abilities, and if by chance they do succeed at something, it is because of forces beyond their control.
Unfortunately, life is full of setbacks. Sheltering your teen from disappointment will not help her become a successful young woman who leads a life of joy instead of defeat.
However, helping your teen see through her failures will help her develop the key characteristics she needs to lead a healthy and successful life – traits like initiative, determination, and empowerment.
Here are a few ways you can prepare your teen to deal with setbacks and see them as opportunities for growth.
Talk to your daughter about her efforts instead of her abilities. Her feelings of confidence will grow from overcoming difficulty, not being told she is great at everything. Research has indicated that those who are reassured for their efforts are more motivated to succeed. Your daughter can’t control her abilities but she can control her efforts. By emphasizing the importance of a hard work ethic, she will come to find that improvement rather than perfection is the true measure of success.
Remind her that absolutely no one got it right the first time – not even Thomas Edison! The next time your daughter is feeling down, remind her of those who failed many times before finally getting it right. For instance, how many times did it take to perfect the light bulb? 1,000. Did you know Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first job because she was told she was “unfit for TV?” How about that Walt Disney was told a mouse would never work? And if she doesn’t make a sports team, tell her how Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.
These reminders will encourage her to try again and broaden her outlook on life’s possibilities.
Offer her a healthy dose of reality. When you’re 14, not getting invited to a classmate’s birthday party can seem like the end of the world! However, when you help your teen take a step back to realize some of the truly traumatic things happening in the world, she might come to find her setback is actually not as bad as it seemed and is even an opportunity for growth. Lending your teen perspective will allow her to see that one mistake does not mean failure, and not getting an invite doesn’t mean she is worthless.
Finally, be a strong role model for failure. Get rid of the attitude that, as the parent, you are always right. Yes, I know this might be hard to swallow, but you’re not because you’re not perfect. Recognizing your failures and handling them with grace will help your teen to see that failure is a part of everyone’s life, and happiness is still possible.
If your teen’s fear of failure is deeply affecting her life, please contact Compass Rose today for help.