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Why Failure is Acceptable

By sandi | July 17, 2013

This week we have VBS and the kids love learning and singing about Jesus. It is such a great time of year and I am glad they like it so much.

This year Paul is entering first grade so he is able to leave the classroom at will when dismissed. This is not a great idea for Paul as he still struggles with making the right choices all the time. (Don’t we all?) In an effort to not lose him in the crowd at pick up time I have asked him to wait in his room for his sisters to come and get him.

Yesterday he decided that he would rather go downstairs and play on the playground than wait in his room for his sisters.

When I came to pick them up another parent alerted me to the fact that Paul was on the playground. I asked him if he had checked Paul out and he said no. I am not sure why Paul felt he could leave but it was a choice he made.

The girls noticed us downstairs and didn’t get themselves lost either so that was good.

As we were walking back to the car I was discussing with Paul how he had made a bad choice. He was expected to stay in his classroom and wait. When talking about the problem he said the two words that drive me bananas: I forgot. I cannot stand it when the kids say this. They somehow act as though if you fail to do what you were supposed to because you forgot about it that makes it better. It doesn’t! When you fail to do something it doesn’t matter the reason, you still failed.

His consequence for not doing what was expected was no screen time, tv, iPad, computer or video games, for the entire day. This was hard on him since in summer I allow the kids to have a lot more down time with the tv. (By a lot more I mean 2-3 hours or so a day as opposed to the maximum 1 hour during the school year.)

Today when I dropped him off I reminded him of his expectation. He said he would do it.

When I went to pickup I stayed in a hallway to monitor and see what the kids do when left to their own decisions. If Paul would have left his room I would have snagged him before he went and played on the playground. If the girls weren’t staying together and were racing to Paul’s classroom I would have seen that as well.

The parent who alerted me to Paul being on the playground walked by and made comments about how I was “trapping” my kids and “setting them up for failure”. Neither of which is true. He also added that I could “not be lazy and just pick him up to solve the problem.” (He is a super authoritative parent and his kids must comply.) I was checking up on what they do when they are left to make their own choices. Would I have stoned them to death if they had not been doing what I expect, certainly not.

I am not here to trap them into failure, I am here to allow them to fail in situations that are still remotely safe. Honestly, if Paul left his classroom and wandered around he would still be somewhere on the church grounds. If the girls ran to pick him up and raced each other they might stumble up the staircase but they wouldn’t be in grave danger.

We must allow our children to fail sometimes. We must see who they are and the decision they make when no one is watching them. Isn’t that the proof of what any person is? Do you cheat and steal even if no one is watching? Do you litter or do you clean up your trash? I want my children to be the kind of people who do what is right even when they are alone.

Paul failing on this small choice allowed him to see that his small choices in life have consequences. I would much rather have him learn this as a young boy than as a teen or adult. While there are plenty of things I protect my children from, these kinds of small failures are good teachers on their own.

Topics: passive indulgence, Paul | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “Why Failure is Acceptable”

  1. Dawn Says:
    July 18th, 2013 at 4:54 am

    I agree with you. :)

  2. Stephanie Says:
    July 18th, 2013 at 8:22 am

    Great post. :) Better to learn failure now.