Letting Children Fail: Why Learning from Failures is Essential

Toddler playing with blocks

As parents, we want our children to succeed in everything they do, even if it means that our interference may cause more harm than the actual failure. Our current society does a great job of planting the seed in our minds that these mistakes or failures are wrapped up in our worth as caretakers for our toddler.

Understanding that our preschooler is capable of experiencing failure and learning from it with our guidance is key to an even more fruitful relationship. So, how can we let our toddlers fail the right way? And in a way that helps them form into the person we know they’re meant to be?


Let Them Be Little

The most important thing to remember is that our toddlers are just that. They’re still learning, growing, and experiencing new things every day. Assuming children will already know how to fail gracefully without any help from us will only breed disappointment.

Kids playing board game

To make things easier, we’ve compiled three takeaways that explain why and how you can support your child through failures.

1. Failure is a learning experience
2. Doing everything for them tells them we don’t think they’re capable
3. Praise effort, not outcome

Failure is a Learning Experience for Your Toddler

Have you ever tried something new, but found that your first effort wasn’t great? Of course you have! It also happens to toddlers all the time. Most things are new to them, so they can’t be expected to be experts in the beginning. Through trial and failure, they begin to learn from their mistakes, re-adjust, and try again. It’ll ultimately breed perseverance and determination, which are two traits well worth the failures.

Doing Everything for Your Preschooler Tells Them You Don’t Think They’re Capable

A preschooler can do much more than we tend to give them credit for. Other cultures have figured this out by allowing much more responsibility at a younger age. So, it’s up to us to enable our children to do things for themselves, even if it’s different than we’d prefer.

For example, if your toddler spills his entire cup of water on the floor, give him the tools and encouragement he needs to clean it up. If we are continually taking over, can we blame our children for feeling helpless in the face of obstacles?

Praise Your Toddler’s Effort, Not Their Outcome

Our children are continually learning, and because of this, we should try to encourage them to explore and make their own choices. Natural consequences that arise from these choices are good for a toddler, instilling in them a healthy dose of determination and pride. When we praise determination, we are showing them that we are proud they gave their best effort to something, rather than getting it “right” every single time.

For example, your preschooler is struggling to zip up his new rain jacket before heading off to school. He’s frustrated when it’s not working correctly, but instead of jumping in to show him “the right way,” try praising his effort. You’ll end up helping him become more independent and confident in his abilities.

Failing Gracefully as a Family

You are your child’s safe place. You are the one they look to amid failure, and like it or not; they learn their responses and reactions to failure from us. If they see you fail but survive, they too know that they can face failure head-on and learn to thrive in spite of it.

We’re Here to Help!

Finding a safe space where you feel comfortable leaving your preschooler every day can be a difficult decision. Plus, there are are so many factors that you can (and should!) consider. Here at The Breakie Bunch Learning Center, we strive to provide a nurturing environment that feels like a home away from home for your family. Reach out to us directly with any questions, and we’ll be happy to provide even more strategies that can help you and your child when it comes to failing with grace!