Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Promoting Failure

I love the message of this video. It's all about well-known people who overcame the failures of their lives.

So, what does this mean for parents? I came to a realization a few years ago that my children were old enough that I not only didn't need to stop every tear, but that I shouldn't. When my children were babies, I considered it my job to prevent or soothe tears. I was lucky in that I didn't have any colicky children, so my experience won't relate to a parent who has been through that. My children cried when they needed something or were hurt and it wasn't all that difficult to have very few tears. As they grew, though, their tears came as a result of frustration over things they weren't able to do, or disappointment from life not going the way they wanted.

I had trained myself to respond to every tear, but one day I realized that I should change my behavior. There is something to be learned from frustration, guilt and sorrow. If I tried to protect my children from their consequences, I would deprive them of valuable growth opportunities. This doesn't mean that I completely ignore them. I believe it's important to acknowledge their feelings, but not my job to make them go away. It's easy to offer them something else they want as a bribe or distraction, but in that case a short-term solution causes a long-term problem.

What I want my children to hear from me is, "I'm sorry you are feeling . . . sad, frustrated, mad, etc. . . . Everybody feels that way sometimes. Don't let it stop you."

My youngest daughter really wants to learn to play the piano. I teach my children myself and we are rather hit and miss as far as lessons go. But, my five-year-old really wants to be taking lessons with the older ones. She goes to the piano and practices and practices, but she's a little young and learning the piano is a challenge. More than once (on the same song even), she has called me in to listen to her try and pass off "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star". She would do really went most of the way through, but then make a small mistake. Then, she would start to cry and run out of the room. Now, it's very tempting to overlook a small error and just give her a pass, but I won't do it. I will follow her, try to give her a hug, and just let her calm down. She doesn't have to come back to piano right then, but she always does come back eventually – sometimes days later. We went through this at least twice on the same song, but yesterday she finally passed it off perfectly (I was listening from the other room – thinking maybe just standing by her was making her nervous). She was so proud; and, much more willing to practice longer on the next piece. I'm proud of her!


DeeAnn said...

Really liked this post, Lori. Good blog, by the way.

Lori LeVar Pierce said...