Is Shielding Our Kids From Failure a Good Idea?

We at Stanfield know how important it is for children, especially those with special needs, to feel a sense of pride and success. However, we also feel that it is beneficial for all children to learn how to cope with disappointments. As much as we would like it to be, life is not perfect and it is unfair to mislead our children and students into thinking it is. We, of course, do not want individuals with special needs to deal with major failures on a daily basis, as this can be extremely stressful. Yet, we believe it is beneficial for students with special needs to learn how to cope with even small disappointments and set backs, such as not making the basketball team or getting a few questions marked wrong on a test. The following article conveys what we think is an essential message for parents and educational professionals.

American children are born into a country of excess and privilege. Couple this with today’s parents who try to build the character and future possibilities of their child in near mythic proportions, and a new set of troubles and issues arise. Today’s children live in a bubble of “false achievement” and are too shielded from failure.

It is very common to see a parent or set of parents over schedule and push their children into a whopping amount of activities and sports designed to give them a competitive edge in the world as they grow. That said, many of the sporting teams and activities have gone to a “no winners and no losers; i.e., “everybody gets a medal” methodology. On the surface this seems to be a good thing, yet, it shields kids from natural ebbs and flows in ability, success and failure. It used to be when a team or child did not win the game/match/meet he or she would suck it up and learn the valuable lesson of being a gracious loser. It may feel miserable but it is natural and real part of life. Now, when such things happen the parents try to protect the child from the “icky” losses.

This has the effect of teaching the child that the world is there for them and that no matter whether they achieve or not, they will get rewards. This just is not the reality of the world, and by doing this too often and too readily it may actually detract from the future potential of the child. Imagine what is going to happen to that child when he or she goes for the first real job and does not get it. They are not equipped to understand or learn from the failure and never fully develop as a person.

© 2012 James Stanfield Company. All Rights Reserved.


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The child who is ‘left behind’ most is the one who leaves school without transition readiness.

Dr. James Stanfield, Ed.D.

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