Do or do not. There is no “try.”
That is the sentiment many of us take to heart as kids. After all, most templates for childhood living are taken from our heroes, and far be it from anyone to deny Jedi Master Yoda’s wisdom. But when the teenage years come around and everything started to get “weird” and “complicated,” one begins to resent that notion.
Whether it be school or friends or sports, failure always feels worse when it’s prescribed to “I did not,” instead of “I tried my best.” Thankfully, great parents and peer groups can help balance those feelings and pressures, but sometimes there’s much more to it, and the fear of failure can become an ever-present pressure in your child’s life.
Even if you’re supportive, caring and understanding of your child, that may not be enough to help him or her balance the stresses of failure. Since the very beginning of K-12, your child was thrust into a system that constantly evaluates various degrees of success, but there’s only one definitive letter grade for failure.
The big F.
As children become teenagers, this system tends to be implemented in other parts of their lives. Personal and peer ratings come into play, and teenagers begin to grade themselves and others based on how they perceive success. The alternative, however, is the overwhelming pressure felt by how they perceive failure.
The fear of failure can be crippling to your child’s ability to succeed in all aspects of life. What if that one, all-encompassing F is dished out by friends? By themselves? By you?
It’s a very special form of panic, and it’s one we’ve all felt at some point in our lives. When that panic is supplemented with mental hurdles like depression or anxiety, it can be the chief motivating factor for extreme, self-destructive behavior.
So here’s the point: introduce the “try.” Tell them to “try hard,” to “try your best.” Let them know there’s the possibility of failure in all aspects of their lives, and more often than not, that’s OK.
Of course you want your teen to succeed at everything, but the liberation of stress and negativity found by directly combating the fear of failure is paramount to their success as a person – and your success as a family.
Let’s help our teens go from seeing themselves as good or bad, to seeing themselves as loved. A teen who knows at her core that she is loved can overcome any failures she faces.
For more information, contact us today.