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The Gift of Failure

The Gift of Failure

Sure, we celebrate successes in our family, but we also believe in the gift of failure. I learned this from my own childhood and now I’m teaming up with Always for their Keep Going #LikeAGirl campaign to talk about doing better for our girls.

Always did a study and they found out that 50% of girls at puberty, feel paralyzed by a fear of failure. I want my girls (and all girls) to feel like they have the permission to fail and learn to keep going.

My Gift of Failure Story

Having a engineer in the family is always helpful. My dad graduated from Cornell with two engineering degrees and can fix just about anything. From tunnels to bridges he’s a wealth of knowledge. He’s also, really, really good at math. As someone who always had a preference for the written word and visual arts, sometimes we didn’t speak the same language when it came to math.

When I started a new, more academically challenging school for high school, things got a little ugly. I’d sit down with my dad to struggle through my algebra homework and often end up in tears. He couldn’t grasp why I was missing questions that should be “intuitively obvious” (a catch phrase that lives in infamy in our family). Most nights I ended up frustrated and in tears. My grades never climbed above a C+–a hard pill to swallow for a motivated student used to seeing her name on the honor roll.

Finally, my mom stepped in and to save everyone’s sanity found a great tutor for me. Did my grades turn around in a week? No they did not. It was a long, slow climb towards proficiency. But I stuck with it. By the end of my sophomore year, I was getting solid A’s and placed in honor’s math. Math never got easier, but I did learn to frame it as a challenge rather than something I was inherently “bad at.”

always goodies for girls

Math is a big part of what I do here at Momtrends. I analyze numbers every day. I know the importance of being comfortable with math. As the mom of two girls, I’m well aware of the how things look for them.

The Gift of Failure for My Girls

According to the US government, women comprise 48% of the U.S. workforce but just 24 percent of STEM workers.* I want what every mom wants for her daughters, opportunity. According to the Always research, more than half of females 16-24 feel that society rejects girls who fail. How do we rectify these two things?

I want to be able to model how effort pays off. We’ve kept an eye on both girls and how they view numbers. When some early testing came back showing our daughter was well below average in her math fluency, we stepped in.

At first we tried getting games and flashcards. Then we tried apps and workbooks. Neither seemed to move the needle, though she did become resentful of the intrusion on her free time. What worked? Once again getting experts to intervene. Using both the resources of our school and outside support, she’s made great progress.

math homework

Through the past three years of middle school she’s learned a lot about life. That hard work pays off and that few things in life come easy. It’s taken years of dedicated effort to see her test scores go up. And this slow and steady effort will serve her well in life.

I’ve done a bit of reading on resilience and “grit” and I want my girls to have both these things. There’s good news for students like me and my daughter. A new batch of studies show that non-cognitive skills like resilience, conscientiousness, optimism, self-control can lead to kids towards long-term success. Articles remind me that you can’t test for grit. But as a parent I can foster it. 65% of females 16-24 avoided trying new things during puberty because they were afraid o failing. If our girls don’t learn to fail, they can’t grow!

Ways to teach kids to embrace the process of failure

Reward the effort not the outcome: Celebrate the time spent on a project, not the final grade.
Share your struggles: It’s not helpful to tell your kids you were a straight-A student and just got the work done. Tell them about the times you failed.
Master the Pep Talk: Positive mind set can go a long way towards helping your kids. Talk about challenges instead of things you’re “bad” at. Look for areas for improvement not “weaknesses”
Fail Yourself: I’m the worst skier in our family, my kids effortlessly zip down the mountain. For me it’s a series of slow turns and careful navigation. But I won’t retire to the lodge. I keep trying to get better.
Find an Expert: Get help where help is needed. Your pep talks are fantastic, but sometimes professionals are needed.

 

helping girls with the failure concept

Building Strong Girls

Now you know one way I’m working with my daughters to help them embrace failure. Let’s keep the conversation going. Always #LikeaGirl believes in giving girls all the tools they need to succeed, they developed this inspiring video I want to share:

Join us to encourage girls everywhere to embrace failure when it happens and use it as fuel to build their confidence. Share a post, video or image to show how you try, fail, learn and KEEP GOING #LIKEAGIRL, remember to tag @always on TwitterFacebook.com/Always or Instagram @always_brand.

 

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About Nicole Feliciano

Nicole Feliciano is the Founder & Editor of Momtrends. Prior to launching Momtrends, she was a fashion executive at Ralph Lauren. Now her mission is bringing style to fashion-starved moms everywhere. Nicole is a lifestyle expert, spokesperson and lover of all things social media. Follow her on twitter @momtrends
  • michelle

    This is a beautiful and powerful piece. It really touched me. I think there’s a lot to be said for sharing your failures as well as successes. Everyone makes mistakes and/or can work toward improving some aspect of themselves. Thank you for encouraging others to embrace this challenge and tackle it with perseverance.

    • momtrends

      Parenting can be a lonely business, sharing makes it easier.