7 phrases to use when talking to your child about failure and resilience

We all want our children to succeed, but sometimes life throws curveballs that are harder to hit.

You might look at your child and wonder how you can equip them with the resilience they need to bounce back from setbacks or failures. How can you turn those disappointments into opportunities for growth?

After many heartfelt discussions with parents and educators, I’ve compiled a list of 7 key phrases that could help you navigate these challenging conversations with your child. If these resonate, it might be time to weave them into your communication repertoire.

1. “Failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of it.”

We often view failure and success as two opposing forces, standing at either end of a battlefield. But what if we could change that narrative for our children?

Consider this: instead of seeing failure as the enemy to be defeated, we frame it as a stepping stone towards success. It’s an integral part of the journey, not the end of it.

By using this phrase, you’re teaching your child that it’s okay to fail. More importantly, you’re highlighting that failure is often a precursor to success, not its antithesis. This can help to reshape how they perceive setbacks and equip them with a healthier, more resilient approach to challenges.

Every failure is an opportunity to learn. And each lesson learned brings them one step closer to success.

2. “It’s okay not to be the best.”

In a society that often idolizes the ‘best’ and ‘brightest’, this phrase may seem counterintuitive. But hear me out.

Instilling in your child a relentless pursuit of being the best can sometimes lead to unnecessary pressure, anxiety, and an unhealthy fear of failure. It’s important to teach them that they don’t always have to be at the top of everything they do.

Through the use of this phrase, you’re encouraging your child to value personal growth and effort over simply winning or being the best. You’re teaching them that it’s not about being better than others, but about being better than they were yesterday.

This can help your child develop a growth mindset, where they view challenges as opportunities to improve themselves, rather than as threats to their self-worth. This mindset is key to fostering resilience and a healthy approach towards failure.

Success isn’t always about being the best. It’s about never stopping to become better.

3. “Let’s talk about what you’ve learned.”

When faced with failure, it’s easy for your child to fixate on what went wrong. However, changing the narrative to focus on the lessons learned can be a game-changer.

By asking your child about what they’ve gleaned from their experience, you shift their focus from defeat to growth. You’re encouraging them to see each setback as a learning opportunity rather than a dead-end.

Using this phrase can help your child develop a positive mindset towards failure. It teaches them that failures are not just stumbling blocks, but stepping stones that lead to wisdom and improvement.

4. “Even Thomas Edison made mistakes.”

It’s no secret that we all make mistakes, and yes, that includes even the most successful people in history.

Take Thomas Edison, for instance. He’s famously known for inventing the electric light bulb, but did you know that it took him around 1,000 attempts to get it right? When asked about his numerous failures, he simply said, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”

By using this phrase, you’re showing your child that everyone, even famous inventors, experience failure. You’re teaching them that it’s not about how many times you fail, but how you use those failures as stepping stones towards your success.

This can help your child see failure in a new light – not as something to be feared or avoided, but as an essential part of the journey towards success.

Making mistakes is human and learning from them is what leads to real breakthroughs.

5. “You are not your failures.”

Sometimes, in the face of failure, it can feel like our shortcomings define us. It’s crucial to remind your child that this is far from the truth.

When you say, “You are not your failures,” you’re reminding your child that they are so much more than their mistakes or setbacks. Their value doesn’t decrease based on the number of times they’ve failed. You’re affirming their worth and encouraging them to see themselves beyond their current circumstances.

This phrase can help your child separate their identity from their failures. It can empower them to rise above disappointments and setbacks, fostering resilience, and building their self-esteem.

A person’s worth isn’t determined by how many times they fall, but by how they rise each time they do.

6. “Celebrate the effort, not just the outcome.”

It may seem odd to celebrate when the desired outcome isn’t achieved. But sometimes, the journey is just as important, if not more so, than the destination.

When you say, “Celebrate the effort, not just the outcome,” you’re encouraging your child to take pride in their hard work, even if it didn’t lead to the result they were hoping for. You’re teaching them to value the process over the product.

This phrase can shift your child’s focus from winning at all costs to appreciating the value of hard work and dedication. It can help them develop a sense of self-worth that isn’t solely tied to their achievements but also to their effort and persistence.

7. “You have the power to try again.”

Failure can sometimes feel like a final destination, but it’s essential for your child to know that it doesn’t have to be the end of the road.

When you say, “You have the power to try again,” you’re reminding your child that they have control over their actions. You’re teaching them that they have the strength and ability to pick themselves up and give it another shot.

This phrase can instill a sense of self-belief in your child. It can encourage them to persevere in the face of setbacks, fostering a resilient mindset that views failure not as a stopping point, but as a stepping stone towards success.

The ability to bounce back from failure is a superpower that can lead to greater achievements in life.

Understanding the Importance of Failure and Resilience in Your Child’s Life

Failure – it can feel like a heavy word, carrying with it a sense of finality and defeat. However, when we take a moment to peel back its layers, we find that failure is not always the catastrophe it’s made out to be. In fact, it can be an incredibly powerful tool for growth, learning, and resilience.

When we talk about resilience, we’re talking about the ability to bounce back from setbacks, to keep going in the face of challenges. It’s a crucial life skill and one that can greatly influence your child’s future success and happiness. But resilience isn’t something that just happens. It needs to be nurtured and cultivated, often through experiences of failure.

We may instinctively want to protect our children from failure – from the disappointment, the frustration, the potential for lowered self-esteem. However, when we allow our children to fail in a safe and supportive environment, we give them the opportunity to develop resilience. They learn that they can fall down and get back up. They learn that they are stronger than they thought they were. They learn how to adapt, how to problem-solve, how to keep going.

That’s why it’s so important for parents to rethink how they approach the topic of failure with our children. It’s not something to be feared or avoided. It’s something to be faced bravely, learned from deeply, and used as a springboard towards growth.

So next time your child faces a setback, don’t rush in to fix it for them or shield them from the disappointment. Stand beside them, guide them with your words and your actions. Remind them of their worth beyond success or failure. Encourage them to try again.

And most importantly – show them that failure is not a reflection of who they are as a person. It’s simply a part of life, a part of growth, a part of the journey towards becoming the best versions of themselves.

Remember, it’s not about making your child invincible to failure, but about equipping them with the resilience they need to face it, learn from it and move forward. That’s a lesson that will serve them well throughout their lives.

Yen Tran

Yen Tran

Yen is a freelance writer and a researcher specializing in mental health, self-awareness, and psychology. Her hobby is studying human behavior throughout their reaction upon situations. Be sure to check out her other posts on our blog.

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