Why Parents Don’t Want to Let Their Kids Fail

By Janis Meredith | Posted 2/26/2020

It’s painful to watch your children fail. Whether it’s in sports, school or in a task they’ve been assigned. Given a preference, I think you’d all admit that you’d like your kids to succeed all the time. It’s much easier to watch. 

But, we as parents are the ones failing when we don’t let our kids fail.

 Far too often, adults intuitively feel we will ruin our children’s self-esteem if we let them fail. They need to feel special–to believe they are winners–and we assume this means we can’t let them fail. Actually, the opposite is true. Genuine, healthy self-esteem develops when caring adults identify children’s strengths but also, allow them the satisfaction that comes only from trying and failing. Effort, failure and eventual triumph build great emerging adults. 

It was so hard for me to watch our kids fail in sports. I wanted so desperately to fix things for them and make it all better. But thankfully, my husband helped me pull back and today, I am so thankful that I learned to do that. At 26, 29, and 32, they have become strong, resilient adults who have worked through many larger failures and I’m sure will face more in the future. 

Unfortunately, there’s a tendency for parents today to worry so much about their child’s self-esteem that they want to keep their child from failure, because they fear it may crush their young athlete. 

It’s important to promote self-esteem in kids, to be concerned with their safety, to give extra help when it’s truly needed, but when parents go too far, there is the danger of giving kids a false sense of reality. That sets them up for a hurtful wakeup call as they grow up. 

Social scientists confer that an emphasis on winning has resulted in kids becoming highly confident. Those scientists also agree that this does not prepare them for the real world that awaits them.

Parents, it’s okay to let your kids fail. Your job is to let them learn how to fail well by providing a safe place to fail and showing them the benefits of failing.

Janis Meredith is a family life coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at rcfamilies.com.


USA Football's new model for youth football is designed to make the game safer by reducing contact and by teaching the game based on an athlete's age, the skill they are learning and game type.