Fear of Failure: Could You Be Unknowingly Instilling This in Your Children?

No one wants to fail. No one likes to fail. But beyond what we may believe, failure is a part of life. For some, however, this fear of failure is so intense that it can cause severe psychological harm. So much so, that it is possible to pass this fear onto children. Without even realizing it, parents can pass down their deepest insecurities. How do you know? Can it be stopped?

Identifying Fear of Failure

Children are like sponges; they absorb behaviors from their caregivers and hold onto them. Before you can recognize if you are projecting your fears, you must first learn to identify them.

The fear of failure has a few signs:

  • Anxiety
  • Helplessness
  • Feeling out of control
  • Indecisiveness
  • Powerlessness
  • Avoidance

People who are afraid to fail often struggle with making decisions, regulating emotions, and being able to set and achieve goals. A lot of times, this fear is rooted with low self-esteem and undermining their skill set. People may not even try something new due to their feelings of inadequacy.

Fear of Failure in Children

While you want your child to develop a healthy view of failure, it is possible that they learn to fear it. How can you tell? Here a few signs that your child is afraid to fail.

Reaction to Mistakes

Everybody makes mistakes! This is a well known phrase by now, and hopefully this is one of the first lessons you teach your kids. Sometimes, however, children make a mistake that causes an intense reaction from parents. If this happens often, it is possible that they start to fear messing up. They may start to learn that making mistakes is not okay because it causes an extreme reaction from caregivers. It may even cause them to never want try anything new.

Punishing Failure

As a parent, you need to discipline your child. But there is a line and it can be difficult to find where that line is. You want to be fair but not cruel. Bad behaviors have consequences, but these consequences do not have to necessarily be punishments. For example, if your child is getting bad grades, your first instinct might be to ground them or take something away. This could unintentionally be teaching your kids that failing is a bad thing. Instead of rushing right to a punishment, try finding solutions like hiring a tutor or helping them study.

Being Pushy

Another way kids can fear failing is if they feel they are pushed into a hobby or activity they don’t want to do. If a parent played baseball when they were younger, they might want to encourage their kid to try it as well. It’s possible that the child doesn’t necessarily like the sport, but they are afraid of their parent being upset with them for wanting to quit. Their parents’ disappointment can be similar to failing in their eyes.

How to Help

You can absolutely help your child with this fear! It’s never too late to start teaching them to embrace making mistakes. The main point is that mistakes are made to help us learn. Failure is just another opportunity for us to try again. We learn, we grow, and we persevere. We are going to succeed more once we learn to accept when we fail.

It may also be beneficial to seek personal help from a mental health professional. You must get your own fears under control if you want any hope for helping your children. Therapy can help you overcome this fear while also helping you to teach your children how to manage. Family therapy can be a wonderful resource to learn and grow together. Reach out and schedule a session today!