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Fear is good! - Teaching Children Different Ways of Using Fear as a Stepping Stone for Success

By Andrew Loh



“If you want to succeed, double your failure rate.” - Thomas J. Watson Jr.

According to the Free Dictionary, failure is:

  • ... “The condition or fact of not achieving the desired end or ends”

  • ... “Nonperformance of what is requested or expected”

  • ... “The act or fact of failing to pass a course, test, or assignment”

  • ... “An act or instance of failing or proving unsuccessful; lack of success”

  • ... “Nonperformance of something due, required, or expected”

In other words, the word failure has many definitions and meanings depending on the context with which one is speaking. However, considering that this article series relates to failure among children, we can choose the last three definitions that seem to fit the description the best among the lot. Why and for what reason failure occurs among children is very difficult to explain. These reasons could be both psychological and mental in nature. Alternatively, it could even relate to the environment where the child grows.

Failure seems to be a subject matter of collective perspective. Failure is common and universal. Everyone will experience some sort of failure in their life. A person who does not experience it might live a life of so much and care, that he or she might never go anywhere not achieve anything in life. A person who does not fail in life may even be living a life of denial.

The lens with which you look at failure is a matter of individual and societal perspective. For example, a child who scores bad marks in an examination may become the object of ridicule for people surrounding him. However, the child that scores low marks may become psychologically disoriented and starts fearing failure. Tasting fear is not the end of the world. Nor is it a yardstick to decide your future. Failure is a passing phase in life. It is common to all of us while children are more likely to experience failure than adults. Failure could be a stepping stone for success. It might even offer a great opportunity to learn the bitter taste of failure and later use the experience to taste success. Every instance of failure provides you an opportunity to fine-tune your future efforts that eventually provides an assured result of success. Failure can stop your children only when they let them! History is full of examples of great failures.

Just consider these stimulating examples of great people tasting eventful failures:

  • Apple fired Steve Jobs who later returned to the same company to design some of the most innovative lifestyle products.

  • Harvard University did not allow Warren Buffet to join the college.

  • Virgin Airlines owner. Richard Branson, never passed out of school.

  • Edison failed hundreds of times before investing the incandescent bulb!

Invariably, a few instances of failure might induce a psychological status known as “fear of failure”. Also known as “atychiphobia” in technical language, fear of failure do not allow us to doing things that can help us achieve achievable goals in life. Fear of failure exhibits many signs and children might show one or many of them:

  • Hesitation to try out newer challenges and tasks.

  • Killing oneself though self-sabotage - procrastinate things, excessive panic and anxiety, not reaching any goals.

  • Low self-esteem and self-confidence - A sort of degrading oneself through making negative remarks about self.

  • Try to finish those things and tasks that do not take much time or prefer those tasks that are easy to do and ensure 100% success.

A small extent of fear of failure is good for children. It will keep them on their toes all the time. Any strategy used to treat this condition should center on one simple principle - “I fear, fear of failure.” In other words, children should develop a fear about not succeeding in achieving tasks and challenges. For every effort, there is an equal chance of failure. A child wins when he or she learns not to commit the same mistake repeatedly that actually resulted in failure. Here are some simple ways of reducing the fear of failure:

  • Know what the possible outcomes are: Fear extends itself into a territory that is unknown and fathomless. Hence, children should know how to predict all possible outcomes.

  • Be positive and act positive - An air of positivity around children acts like a strong shield against possible failures. Parents may need to help their children build positive thinking.

  • Know what could be the worst possible scenario - When your children learn how to predict the worst possible outcome of any action, they will steadily remove the fear of failure.

Parents may need to act as mentors and guide to their children. Children, with their tender minds, always need very strong counseling from their parents. Encouragement can go a long way in helping children to use fear as a strong tool to succeed. Continue to read Teaching Children How to Convert Failure into Success - Simple Tips and Suggestions



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