There is nothing more heartbreaking than watching your child’s hopes and dreams being dashed. The first time your child comes home from school in tears or with a heavy heart is an unforgettable moment. It might be because they have failed the expectations of their friends, their own standard of schoolwork or an exam. As loving parents, you would do anything to take away the pain, repair the wound and restore the innocent wonder of the dream in your child’s heart again.

Perhaps that is why, as parents, we attempt to protect our children from experiencing anything that may result in heartache or failure?

Young children are conditioned by life, family and friends to avoid looking or feeling like a failure. They are pushed by a consumer driven society that tells them that they need to come out on top, all the time. Is this a successful strategy or does it set our young ones up for failure and disappointment?  It is essential that our children learn how to encounter failure and disappointment. And to respond to it with dignity and a fuller understanding of what went wrong.

Understandably, everyone would love to avoid failure. The problem is that we see failure as a weakness instead of a strength-builder. Nothing builds resilience and character more than failing at something we really want to achieve. But even more than this, as parents, modelling a positive response towards failure allows your children to see that setbacks are the essential building blocks to success.

If you have never failed, you have never attempted anything that matters enough to you.

The person behind every overnight success story knows the amount of skill and determination it took to push through all the hurdles of failure.

  • Michael Jordan missed the game-winning shot over 300 times.
  • Emily Dickinson had only three of more than 1800 poems published in her lifetime.
  • Edison made more than 10,000 attempts before his ‘light bulb moment’ arrived.
  • Theodor Geisel’s, (Dr Seuss), first book was rejected by 27 publishers, but determination led him to sell over 600 million children’s books.

Dr Seuss intended to burn his manuscript after being rejected time and time again. Fortunately, he ran into an old acquaintance who happened to work at Vanguard Press, and Dr Seuss submitted his manuscript one last time. A less persistent outlook would have resulted in this literary giant’s work never making it out into the world.

What sets these people apart is their thirst to continue, a determination to keep trying, and an ability to rise above adversity. History is littered with people who repeatedly failed. It was their determination that drove them to reach success. If they had given up at the first stumbling block they would not have made history and we would never have heard the stories of their accomplishments.

Napoleon Bonaparte said, ‘He who fears being conquered is sure of defeat.’ Helping your children to understand that failure precedes conquest is a priceless gift that doesn’t need wrapping or a bow.

We do our children a terrible disservice when we prevent them from failing in a safe and supportive environment. There is, however, a very important distinction to be made when helping your kids learn about failure. They should not be left to fail, but rather taught what failure is, how to understand it, learn from it and use their new knowledge to fuel their determination so they can reach for their dreams.

Supporting your children to persist beyond failure is helping to prepare them for setbacks in life. It is a solid learning foundation that will help them thrive now and into the future.

To learn more about turning failure into success go to

About the author: Tim Heinecke

Tim Heinecke is Australia’s number one student engagement guru. Being a father to four school-aged children as well as having been a school teacher for more than 20 years gives him insights into better ways to inspire young people. Tim is the founder of the Student Engagement Institute and he has shown thousands of teachers and parents how to better engage children in their own educational journey.