Most parents want to pave the way for their children. They would like them not to have to deal with defeats, setbacks, failures, and problems. It is an understandable desire. However, emotional strength and resilience are created in adversity, testing our strength and developing new skills needed to solve problems. That’s why not teaching children to lose, deal with frustration or face problems on their own means taking away valuable opportunities for growth.
The scientific experiment that showed the importance of children’s effort
It was the 1990s when two psychologists from Columbia University carried out a very interesting with children between 10 and 12 years old. These researchers gave all the children an intelligence test to assess their performance, but gave them false feedback.
Some children were told that they did well, indicating that they got 80% correct. of the problems. Another group was told that they were little geniuses and that they had solved all the problems well, and a third group was not told the results.
Later, they gave the children a choice between two tasks: a very difficult challenge that implied the possibility of failure but that would also allow them to learn and an easier task that they could do without problems, but that would not give them any learning.
Almost 65% of the children who had been praised as “geniuses” opted for the easy task. In the end, when the psychologists resubmitted all the children to a series of tests similar to the first, the children who had as “geniuses” they had the lowest scores and even their own performance had worsened compared to the initial results.
This study showed that the tendency to avoid frustration and failure in children can be counterproductive, to yes how to make them think that they do not need to work hard to achieve good results.
When parents keep children in a bubble and praise their abilities and aptitudes instead of rewarding effort, it is common for a fear of failure to be generated. To avoid this failure, children will prefer to choose situations in which they feel comfortable and that allow them to ratify those abilities and aptitudes.
The problem is that staying continuously in the comfort zone does not allow them to learn because growth occurs just when we leave what is known and face new challenges that make us test our skills or require us to develop new skills. In this way, preventing children from taking fiascos becomes a limitation for their lives.
Losing is part of life
When children win they feel a sense of empowerment that Without a doubt, it is fundamental to prop up your self-esteem. Winning makes them feel proud of themselves, shows them that they are good at something and boosts their self-confidence.
However, losing on purpose in games, a habit of many parents To make children feel good, it won’t help them, but instead robs them of the ability to develop the psychological resources they need to deal with defeat and failure in real life.
If a child doesn’t lose, make mistakes and don’t get frustrated, he won’t be able to learn to deal with those sensations and, when I face them on the vine a real one is likely to trigger dysfunctional coping strategies.
On the contrary, when a child loses or makes a mistake, she understands that, in the end, it is not such a negative or terrible experience. He discovers that losing isn’t the end of the world and may learn that life is full of second chances.
Kids may initially find losing unfair or angry, but parents can take this opportunity to explain to them that we all have different abilities and that it is impossible to be good at everything, so there will be times when others will take advantage of us. This will help children develop a more realistic self-image and be aware of their strengths and abilities, but also take note of their limitations and weaknesses.
On the other hand, losing shows children the need to work hard to succeed or reach the goals they set for themselves. This way they will learn that good things don’t just happen, but that you have to work hard to get them.
Finally, the experience of coping with loss helps children develop empathy. It allows them to understand what other children feel when they win, so that they can assume a more assertive attitude in their interpersonal relationships.
Finding the right balance
Not all of this it means that children have to continually expose themselves to defeat and situations that generate frustration. The part of the brain that helps children manage the powerful emotions that generate loss and defeat is one of the last to develop, so they need a lot of help to cope with this type of situation.
If the child always loses, experiences failure over and over again and is exposed to situations that exceed his abilities, generating frustration, those experiences they can be devastating from an emotional point of view. The key, as in everything in life, is to dose successes and failures, defeats and victories.
This way you can stimulate yourself in the child a growth mindset so that he understands the importance of effort and manages to see obstacles as challenges. In fact, if parents manage a defeat properly, it can become a small victory for the child.
One of the keys to achieving this is to teach children not to compete with others but with himself. The secret does not lie in always being the first of the group but in continuously improving. This is not about raising a “winner” but about raising a confident child who is more likely to develop a “can do attitude”, a child who is motivated to give the following steps that will allow you to achieve greater goals in life.