Teaching Kids to Deal with Failures Positively

Do your kids know the story of Napoleon and the spider?

Napoleon was a French general who led France to many victories and won most of his campaigns. Once after a fierce battle and on the brink of defeat he took shelter in a cave. While contemplating the possibility of his own loss he watched a spider trying to climb a wall. The spider kept falling down and trying to climb back up.

Napoleon wondered why did the tiny spider not give up?

After a number of attempts it scaled the wall. What mattered was that it climbed the height not the number of attempts it required.

Inspired by a tiny insect a great warrior learned a big lesson.

“Try try and you will succeed.”

This was drilled into us as kids. you don’t give up and you succeed.

Let’s think of the alternate, what if even after trying your best you still do not achieve the desired goal?

What reminded me of this story was, last week while watching a popular Indian game show I heard a student confess “I did not know how to deal with failure and when I encountered my first failure neither me nor my parents knew how to deal with it. The result was I became depressed and it was the toughest fight I had to fight. I could not comprehend that despite giving my best  how I failed.”

Take a minute to read the above statement again. As a parent it raises red flags for me.

 Do we and our kids ever prepare for the eventuality of failure?

 So how do we tackle this  pressing issue? In a world of increasing competition in every field, how do we handle being mediocre or even failing at times?

Maybe one small step at a time.

What is failure?

It can mean different things for different people. A bad decision, a flunked test, an unsuccessful job interview or a failed relationship. The list is endless.

When something like this happens the focus stays on the negative outcome and not the effort, which can get overwhelming for some.

This is what failure is, not the actual failing but allowing setbacks to let you want to give up.

One thing that is the universal truth is sooner or later we all stumble or fall, it is inevitable. Encountering failures is a stepping stone not a full stop.

A Kids sense of failure varies at different ages and needs to be handled accordingly.

How to deal with failures:

I will begin by saying failing is also ok.

You made mistakes, you failed. Then what?

There are no last chances in life, all failed attempts are second last.

Mistakes can always be rectified. I believe I might not be able to undo my mistakes but I can definitely correct those to the best of my abilities, which is good enough.

Every kid needs to understand that at times even the most honest efforts, just like any half hearted attempt, can end up in failure.

So what is the point of working hard towards your goals?


Your dreams deserve your sincere efforts. Falling short or achieving the desired result is just a part of life but It cannot be the defining moment of a persons life.

Always encourage your kid to have backup plans. Success is not the only option. some might wonder is the second or third best good enough?

Let’s cite by an example. If you favorite ice cream place runs out of the flavor you love the best, will you just give up and walk out without a cold treat? Chances are you might get a bit crest fallen but you would rethink about what else you might love and enjoy it equally.

Just a very small everyday situation but we as parents can be the motivation our kids need during those hard times when they fall and might not find the courage to get back up.

Stop treating failure as a sinister word, something to be sidestepped. Discuss it, work out the options. Be it sports, studies or relationships.

What to do when you fail?

The solution is the simplest, get up dust yourself and start living your life again. A failure should not be given undue importance.

Remind yourself of what keeps you going when all the chips are really down.

As a parent help your kid get back on their feet, be the support that gives them the confidence to NEVER GIVE UP ON LIFE.

Some days might make them feel it’s all over. Give them love and support that tomorrow will make things look if not exactly rosy but undeniably less bleak.

As a teenager to tween don’t decide to quit today, sleep on it. A new dawn might just be around the corner. Do you want to miss on it just because you gave up?

Fight with yourself the hardest when you want to call it quits. Tell yourself firmly “not giving up today”.

The great warrior Napoleon believed “Impossible is a word found in the dictionary of fools”.

Still when faced with defeat and on the verge of giving up he drew inspiration from a tiny spider and fought back with renewed vigour.

Failure is not failing at something, failure is giving up.

Failures teach us to appreciate those triumphs that we manage despite all the glitches and pitfalls.

To conclude, do not be defeated by any failure, live your life to make it the best version you can, if only to annoy the odds. You got this.

As mothers we fight not only our own demons but those of our kids too. What steps do you take to deal with failures big or small?


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