From the time my kids could hold a racquet, albeit using both hands and after teaching them how to swing at a forehand, I encouraged consistency with keeping the ball in play… after that the gloves were off. Whether it was failing to win consecutive points, is all part of the the failure treadmill… mistakes, disappointments, and frustration, all need to be experienced in order to move forward are vital. More importantly learning how to take constructive criticism or feedback is key to learning.

Kids need to experience failure and disappointment and know what frustration feels like, if they’re going to become resourceful and self-reliant adults, whether it be in sport or the sport of life.

In my parents’ generation the process based thinking, was always developed before results occurred. Cause and effect. In today’s society, the end result seems to be the only outcome worth focusing on. Part of being a role model for your kids, is being a role model for how an adult handles failure and being the best example of how to behave when a setback happens. To that end, I always made sure I set up goals, ones that you could almost certainly fail at. These were all aimed at opening up discussions about honesty with the fact that everyone fails… Particularly me.

School for me was a classic example from which results at school determined my level of self-esteem and value as a person. Those grades killed off any motivation I may have had that made me want to learn. I make sure with my children; I don’t post grades on the pin board or on a fridge magnet. I’m more goal oriented than results driven. I much prefer to put up their goals rather than their grades. I take a lax approach to homework. With them knowing that you are there for them if they need anything (providing that its task based and not a whining whinge) is far more valuable than having the right answers or an amazing looking project which you may or may not have created yourself for your child (wink). Instilling a “give it your best shot” type attitude takes the heat and stress out of a situation that is ultimately unnecessary.

In a world where political correctness has somehow become the only correct way to do things, is fine to a point. I try to be patient and not get on the phone to teachers or other parents should things go awry with in the playground or in the neighborhood. Kids need to have a say and a voice, face their own battles, rather than an adult stepping in. From the sandbox to the playgrounds kids need to have the argument and perhaps a dust up, it encourages standing up for themselves… stand up for injustice, whether it’s their own or a school friend or mate. Like every other experience, they are all valuable and formative experiences.

My folks had a tendency to rush in and rescue me from failure, while their intentions were from a loving place, it did result me in becoming unwilling to try something, for fear that I may fail. I remember, having a heated argument with my folks about wanting to do something… they questioned me about why I would want to attempt something like that… and that I was almost destined to fail at it… I remember my emphatic response “I know I might fail and that it may be a mistake to do this… but at least the mistake will be mine!” I clearly needed my own independence and a willingness to owning the outcome and more importantly, being comfortable with failure.

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