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Regardless of age, failure’s a bitter pill to swallow. We all want to be winners. But it’s an absolute reality that failure is a normal – and necessary, part of life.

Failure is a normal - and necessary, part of life.
Failure is a normal – and necessary, part of life.

Kids that are driven to succeed at all costs are usually devastated when they fail at something. That devastation can lead to a loss of self-esteem, depression and even, sadly, youth suicide.

It’s essential, even critical, that we use something in everyday life to teach our kids about failure.

Participation in sport offers much more than just a way to keep a child physically active and healthy. It builds friendships, trust in others and most importantly, helps them learn critical life lessons.

Sport will teach your child about teamwork and how to accept wins and losses. And when the latter inevitably occur, your support and guidance can teach them how to accept that failure and learn from it.

Helping your child implement certain behaviors will allow them to succeed even when they think they have failed. Here are some lessons I’ve learned that may help you to help them.

Encourage compassion

Teach your child how to be their own best friend! They will meet many people on their journey who will want to pull them down. As a parent and mentor, show them how to have compassion… for themselves.

We have two minds working all the time – the conscious and the sub-conscious. The latter is that little voice that beats us up and wants us to believe that we’re ‘not good enough’. Teaching your child self-compassion will nullify that voice.

Teach your children how to have compassion... for themselves.
Teach your children how to have compassion… for themselves.

Help them to find the right things they did during the game. That great pass, block, basket or tackle you saw. Reinforce the positive because there is always something good that happens in every loss!

Above all, never criticize them for how they played. Although it may not seem like it at times, you are the most important influence in their lives. By finding the positive, you will help them to avoid a negative mindset so that they can bounce back from future failure.

Avoid a false narrative

It’s easy for kids to create a false narrative in their mind. That loss can build a mental story that says, “I failed today, so I will probably fail tomorrow.”

Help your child to understand that there is no connection between today and tomorrow’s game. Teach them about creating a blank canvas each time they play by avoiding a conversation about past mistakes.

Remind them that how they do tomorrow, will only be affected by how they play tomorrow, not today.

Help them to understand that dwelling on past mistakes, losses and/or failures achieves nothing. None of us can change the past. But we can change the future.

Turning weaknesses to strengths

A loss is a great way for your child to learn about their strengths and weaknesses.

Help them understand that failure is an opportunity to reveal what skills they need to work on for their next game.

Learning their weaknesses now will allow them to improve and succeed in the future.

Help them to overcome the ‘fear of failure

So many of us have been held back in life because we fear failure. But real winners in life embrace failure.

For example, Elon Musk has taken enormous risks with both Tesla and Space X but has helped shape the future as a direct result.

Thomas Edison had more than 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”

As a parent and mentor, you can be proactive about and before failure by teaching them not to fear it. Failure is not the end of their world. It’s an opportunity to learn.

Talk to your child about creating a positive mindset. Help them to accept the loss as a positive learning experience. They needn’t fear failure when it happens because there will always be another opportunity for your child to succeed.

Talk to your child about creating a positive mindset. Help them to accept the loss as a positive learning experience.
Talk to your child about creating a positive mindset. Help them to accept the loss as a positive learning experience.

Once they understand and accept that losing is not a terrible thing, their future losses – and there will be many throughout life – will be easier to deal with.

Create the ‘NEXT!’ mindset

That loss or failure is in the past. It’s over. It can’t be undone or changed. Next!

Teach your child to focus on the future – the things he or she can change. Help them to develop the ‘NEXT!’ mentality.

Sport is a great way for kids to learn about losing and failure. Your role is to help them to accept it as a normal part of life and to teach them how to deal with it.

One harsh word from you is worse than a hundred from others. Be the light in their life by helping them to implement the beliefs and behaviors that will allow them to succeed in life.

While you’re here, you might also like our article on 25 positive things you can say to your child