Has there ever been a time in your life where you tried to act brave or courageous and felt the rush ofacting despite fear, only to end up failing? Maybe you’ve applied for a promotion despite your discomfort in doing so only to be turned down, or to miss out an important step on the application. Sometimes these moments are discovered so privately that you’re able to brush them off like they never happened, only to feel the disappointment in the pit of your stomach.
Acting fearlessly can be incredibly lonely if you have nobody to share it with. What feels even worse is when you act courageously and fail, and still have nobody to share it with. While it can sometimes be inevitable that you must occasionally have to bear the weight of your missteps alone, you have the ability to make sure that this loneliness is never felt by your daughter. When you have done a great job of articulating and teaching your little girl that it is both brave and healthy for her to chase the things that she believes in, even when it scares her, and that it is part of life to do hard and scary things that might cause some discomfort, then she will have built character that makes her a more empathetic and courageous person. If you have built up her confidence to a point where she feels comfortable acting in ways that require courage, then it is important to be there for her no matter the results. Let’s imagine that she begins to exercise her newfound courage by trying out for the swim team and competing in her first swim meet. While she has put her heart and soul into practicing, she may still fail and come in last place, not qualifying for any future meets. What now? While watching your daughter’s courageous acts pay off can be a magical feeling, there will always be times when this doesn’t happen, and you must deal with the fallout of her courageous act not being enough to secure a personal win.
While it might be disappointing for you to watch your daughter have a hard time with a task, it’s even harder for her, especially if she put herself out on a limb to do something she isn’t used to. Use this moment as a time of guidance and love. Instead of focusing on the bad, praise how much effort it took to even reach this point.
Recognize that she tried, and she did her best, and sometimes that’s enough, no matter what the outcome. When you praise the effort instead of the end result, you are reminding her that trying is the first step to success. So, if she did spend hours practicing for something like a swim meet, but did not get the results she wanted, don’t let her throw those hours of practice out the window. She was still able to set a goal and work towards it, and that’s never worthless.
Another feeling of failure can arise when the desire to act fearlessly is there, but the will isn’t strong enough to complete the task. Sometimes this can feel harder than trying and failing, because you’ll never know what the outcome could have been. Take this as another coaching opportunity and review the situation with your daughter. What held her back? What does she think she needs to better reach her goal next time? Did she have the support she needed? Taking time to review not only her feelings, but her preparedness, can help both you and your daughter better understand what was missing, and how she can better tackle it next time.
There are always going to be times when we fail, and there will always be times when we have to watch our daughters fail. No matter what the cause or the situation is, it’s important to set the example that failure is not the end, but a chance to take a second look and learn from your mistakes. As Henry Ford once said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”