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Learning to Fail Well


The Importance of Learning to Fail Well

One day I was watching my young niece play with her tea set.  She was pouring water from the kettle into the cups, and I realized that she didn’t have a good grip on the kettle, and she couldn’t keep from spilling some of the water.  I started to reach down to show her how to hold the kettle, and as I began to take it from her, she looked angry and made an abrupt grunt of disapproval.  I said “ok, I was just trying to help.”  As I continued watching her play and spill more water, she began adjusting her grip on the kettle on her own, without my intervention.

So often we find ourselves shielding our children from failure.  Have we ever asked ourselves why?  What feelings come up for us when we consider our own failure?  Is fear one of them, or shame?  Experience is the best teacher, and our children need to be encouraged to explore and try new things. 

When our children fail, how do we respond?  Are we pointing out the results of their failures, or are we fostering character traits such as curiosity, exploration, resilience, and self-compassion?   In addition to teaching our children the importance of embracing failure, are we considering the results of offering praise? Are we praising our children’s efforts and intentions, or only their successful outcomes?  In her Ted Talk, Professor Carol Dweck offers a better understanding of how we can encourage our children toward Developing a Growth Mindset

The Refuge Center for Counseling provides a wide range of services for children, adolescents, adults, and families.  To learn more, visit our website at

Blog written by Refuge Center Masters Level Counseling Intern Christy Hunt

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The Refuge Center for Counseling is a 501c3 nonprofit organization (20-3831943). We are also a United Way of Williamson County Partner Organization.