What can make a parent more proud than seeing their son or daughter scoring the winning goal, hitting home the winning run, leading their cheerleading squad to a first place finish, receiving multiple scholarships to college, or being called to receive some type of recognition?
To be honest, not a whole lot. There is something very special about celebrating when our children achieve success.
With all that is great about being supportive and even pushing kids to be successful, there is also a chance that all the celebration could have a different type of influence. One parent may not even see until it's too late.
We have been taught that winning is important, and for some, it's the only thing that is important.
As parents we are charged with teaching our children so they are prepared for life. As part of this, we teach them how to be successful. One of the easiest ways to teach success is by making a connection to winning.
Thus, our kids start out on a sports team, in a dance class, playing the piano, or whatever it is. Our goal then becomes to see them achieve success. We will do whatever it takes to get them to practice, purchase the right equipment, and get extra instruction from an outside coach to help our child be successful or win. However, with all of our good intentioned efforts to help our child be successful, we often forget to teach them about the other side of success or winning- failure and losing.
Why are parents so fearful of failure for their children? There are many reasons for this: from having experienced failure themselves and it not being a good experience, to comparing with other kids and parents and not being as good.
No matter what the reason, parents focusing on their children's triumphs can potentially set them up for failure later on.
If we are being honest here, failure is a potential result. It should never be the option one strives for but it will happen to everyone at some point in their life.
As parents we have a duty and responsibility to teach and prepare our children to learn how to deal with failure and setbacks. This does not happen if our entire focus is only on them winning. In fact, creating an environment where a son or daughter feels like winning is the only option and result that a parent will accept can have devastating impacts on both the child and parent.
So how can parents help ensure their excitement and celebration of their children's success does not set them up for failure? Read these 3 tips:
1. Set proper expectations
Parents must be willing to have open discussions with their children about what their expectations are for them when they are pursuing something they love.
Coaches, teachers and trainers are going to set expectations for their players and students, but as parents we must be sure our children know what we expect. These expectations might include: always give your best effort, respect your coaches, teachers, teammates and opponents, always be humble and gracious even if you lose, and no matter what the outcome, we will love you.
Having these expectations will minimize some of the stress of the child and in turn the parent as well.
2. Manage your emotions
Parents will almost always be their children's number one fans; it's just how it goes. They can also be their sons or daughters worst fan; it all depends on how you manage your emotions.
You don't want to be that parent that is always the loudest and proudest. You also do not want to be that parent that screams, complains or shows disappointment when things don't go how you wanted them to.
You must find ways to manage your celebration, enthusiasm, frustration, disappointment and words because your child is watching you. Being able to show genuine love and support when they lose can be just as important, if not more impactful, as when they win.
3. Educate through failure
The best time for someone to learn is when we are humble. When we are humble, we are not proud or arrogant, and thus more open to listening and learning.
As parents find ways to help teach their son or daughter through experiences of failure, they will be preparing them for a much better future.
One of the most influential and impactful ways that a parent can teach is through their own personal examples. As a son or daughter listens to when their mom or dad failed or lost and what they learned, they will be more likely to learn from their own experience.
If you are one of those parents who have been celebrating the success and triumphs of your children, that is awesome. However, you may want to think about how you might help teach your children that although success and winning are great goals, and what they should strive for, failure is not the end of the world. Teach them that there are great lessons that come from those situations.
Be sure to teach them with love and always be real; they will know when you are not. Don't feel guilty if you feel your focus has only been on the success, as you don't want the pendulum to swing completely to the other side. Just take some small steps at first, but take them.
Your kids deserve it and you do as well. Just think about the celebration you can have as your kids grow up to learn from their experiences and find success in life.
Seth Saunders is an executive business consultant and leadership coach. Seth has been married 20 years to his amazing wife, Amber, and is the proud father of three wonderful sons. He is passionate about helping others succeed.