How to redefine failure for your child

12 Nov 2021

As parents, it is natural to want your child to succeed all the time; however, the reality is that your child will fail at some point in their life. We know that dealing with failure is hard, but your child has to fail to succeed. 

In this article, we share the importance of redefining failure for your child as a positive thing instead of a negative one.  

Redefine failure to your child 

Research conducted by Psychological Science found that the way parents deal with their children’s failure impacts how children view failure. The study explains that if parents see failure negatively, their children will also share the same opinion. Therefore, when your child fails, focus on the positive rather than the negative.

For example, instead of criticising them for not reaching their goals, tell them what they can do to improve to achieve success the next time. 

SPARK Schools Primary School Curriculum and Assessment Lead Ziphindile Mbiza say failure builds resilience in children. 

How to best deal with academic failure 

It can be frustrating when a child struggles academically, as you might not know how to help. The critical thing to remember is that your child might be doing the best they possibly can. 

“As a parent dealing with a child who is not performing academically, it is important to focus on what can be done to assist the child at their level,” advises Mbiza.

How to help your child overcome failure 

While children move on from failure faster than adults, failing at something can still dent their confidence. 

“The best way to help children overcome failure is by allowing them to discuss it, create a culture where they can speak unashamedly about it,” says Mbiza. 

Additionally, Mbiza believes that the language you use when your child is faced with an obstacle is also key to helping them better deal with the challenge. She suggests the following: “It would be great to give them a language to use every time they do not succeed at a task they worked hard in. We’ve seen the acronyms “ First Attempt In Learning”, First Action In Learning”, or “I am not on 100% YET”,” she says.

While these are just simple words, Mbiza says they make it easy for children to communicate their disappointment and reassure them that they can continuously improve. 


For your child to develop, they have to fail at some point. Failure doesn’t only help your child grow but allows them to deal with challenges better. It helps them to be better prepared to navigate real-life situations. 

To learn more about SPARK Schools, please click here.