As I was scolding my daughter for getting a bad grade in Science, I suddenly stepped back and stopped.
My daughter's not big on loosing. It's particularly noticeable in group play. When she is doing an activity where she thinks she might not win, she just drops out of that activity. Its as if when she hears the dark clouds of failing, she winces and she backs off. She won't publicly display a new skill, until she has practiced it and is sure her performance will ooze out perfection. And here I was, reinforcing her very habit.
After a lifetime of winning and failing, I have believed in the importance of both to make us better people. Call it too much critical introspection or too much failure. Haa :) I think I have started to embrace failure as much as success and yet in that very moment, I refused to accept my daughter's grade.
Failure as stated in the dictionary is just "the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective." That's all. Nothing chronic. Nothing that can't be reversed. Nothing that is the end of the world.
Failure is important for self reflection. The kind of insight you get after failing is immense and it not only makes you better prepared for the future but also prepares you to think creatively through solutions.
Yet here I was, scolding her for her grades. Not embracing her failure and behaving as if something chronic has happened in her life.
Christine Carter, PhD, of The Greater Good Science Center, saw in her own research that kids who reported facing more challenges in their lives were far happier than the kids who reported fewer (or no) challenges. That means not only is failure critical to success but it's also a cornerstone of happiness.
I owe her the right to fail, to embrace it and to figure through the labrynith of her mind as to what went wrong.
Be it loosing a friend, not able to tie her laces, an incorrectly done problem - she needs all of this. Because at the end of failing is where thought application begins. Its where creativity unleashes itself.
As Christine said, "the thing we need to protect our kids from is not failure but a life void of failure."