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Allowing Your Child to Fail While the Cost is Low

Updated: Oct 13, 2021

Parents, if you follow my blog or have heard me speak, then you know I always do my best to

keep things real with you. I may be a counselor, but I’m also an educator who has helped

hundreds of children of all ages and their families for over 20 years. Because of this

experience, I want to talk about one subject that I think gets left out of the conversation:

letting your child fail.

Now, hold on – I know this idea is probably making you wrinkle your foreheads right now.

Parents are taught to believe that having their children succeed is the most important thing.

I’m not going to disagree that everyone, from parents

to educators, wants kids to do well in school and

graduate. But I’m going to say something a little

controversial: kids need to experience a failure to get

to that point of success. In my line of work, I’ve seen

helicopter and lawnmower parents manage every

aspect of their kids’ lives, from the classes they take to

the sports they play. Many people are familiar with the

helicopter parent concept, but what is a lawnmower parent, you may ask? This parent will

stop at nothing to see their child successful. They will chop down anything in their path. But

what happens when the parents can’t be there all the time to make things easier – when the

kids go off to college or get jobs?

These kids, who their whole lives have never learned how to function independently, are

suddenly at a loss. Their lives have been so micromanaged that they wind up struggling

and unfortunately, this occurs at the point when the cost of failure is highest. I’ve seen kids

go from straight-A students in high school to flunking out of college and ending up on their

parents’ sofa. Is that what you want?

None of us wants to see someone we love struggle, especially our kids,

but there needs to be a balance, or you can harm your kids in the long

run. The solution? Practice stepping back and gradually giving your child

more independence while they’re younger – before the cost of failure

becomes too high. This independence will provide them with the

experience and strength to handle themselves in adversity when they are


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