Helping your child learn from mistakes

“I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”― Michael Jordan 

Every person experiences failure at some point in their life, and that's okay. 

For many children their first encounter with failure is in sports, so why not take advantage of this to teach them some valuable life lessons? 

While the topic of everybody receiving a participation trophy is always one of debate, you can teach your children how to deal with failure either way.

Lost Game

This is the most apparent form of failure in sports and has happened to every single player in the sports industry; it’s a matter of how one deals with the loss that makes the difference.

In one extreme a loss may be followed by criticism and scolding; on the other side of the extreme a loss may be supported by the classic, “it’s not your fault,” or, “it’s just a game.” 

Neither of these makes you a bad parent but it is something that is far too easy to fall into the habit of, and you are missing vital opportunities to teach your children how to deal with loss or failure. 

Talk to your children about how they are feeling, so they learn to understand their emotions. 

It is also helpful to walk through the game with your child. 

What were the negatives and positives of the game? 

What could they have done differently? 

Most importantly, what can they practice this week to help them improve in their next game. This is possibly the most important and skipped part to cover because failure is a chance to learn from mistakes and become better; but, you don’t become better by merely thinking it, you can only become better by practicing or adapting to change.

Getting Cut

There is nothing worse than seeing your child have no doubts that they were going to make the team and then see their heart get shattered when they are cut. 

This again can be an excellent opportunity to learn a valuable life lesson. Sometimes what we want doesn’t always work out.

It's important for your child not to let it defeat them and instead understand why they didn't make the team. 

Some of the same questions are good to ask here.

What can they practice on this season to assure that they make the team next season? 

We can also talk about how things don’t always go our way, and that's ok. 

JK Rowling got turned down by multiple publishers before Harry Potter was published and became a massive success. Maybe it’s because people did not see what she was capable of before, or perhaps she continued to take the critics and better her edits. 

Whatever the case, she did not let this stop her from trying. She kept putting herself out there and accepting the fact that she might hit criticism with the hope that someday, someone would see her greatness. 

This is how we need to teach our kids to view a situation like being cut from a team. 

While it is not what they wanted, they can’t let what one coach let down, stop them from pursuing the sport that they love.

Not Being Captain

This may seem silly, but many older athletes feel they not only need to make the team, but they need to be the best on the team, and they need to be in charge, and when they are not picked as Captain, it is a downer. 

This is a simple lesson to teach your kids that will change their life. 

Everyone can't be the best, it's impossible. But it's essential that they learn from the best and continue to strive for the top and give it their all. 

Just because a teammate is better for the position than them, does not mean that your child is not valuable. 

Just because they are not considered the best, does not mean that they've failed; they are still a vital part of the structure of the team. 

Seems simple, right?

Many kids feel like they are letting their parents, coaches, and themselves down when they are not the top pick, but hearing someone say that they are still valued, and they don't need to be captain, can help their outlook on the situation. 

Nobody wants to see their kids fail in any aspect in life, but if you do not teach your child how to handle failure, you are setting them up for even bigger failures in their future. 

Always encourage your child to do better, and that doesn't mean no failure. 

It may sound cliche when you tell them that it is a learning experience rather than a failure, but saying it often helps them process failure in a positive way that will help them throughout their life.