Parents, by their very nature, wish to protect their child as much as they possibly can, but if this protection is taken too far, then it ends up causing deep and long-term damage to a child’s development, self-confidence and ability to grow into a fully functional and happy member of modern society. Instead, a child should not only be allowed to fail, but actively encouraged to do so. They need to be shown that failure is not something to be scared of, and be taught how to learn from it so that each failure, rather than being an assault on their inner self, becomes an opportunity for growth in terms of both their core life skills and their character. This is the tenet behind The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey, and it’s an eye-opening book that will show parents exactly why failure is such an important part of a child’s development, and how, by protecting them from failure at all costs, they are actually harming the child they seek to protect.
Basic Book Information (2015 Paperback Edition): ISBN: 978-1-78072-244-3; Year of First Publication: 2015; Recommended Retail Price (RRP): £14.99/US$15.99; Number of Pages: 267. To purchase this book in the UK, click here. To purchase this book in the USA, click here.
What is this book about? This book is about how disappointment, rejection, criticism and failure are all part and parcel of every day life, and how they should be seen as opportunities in disguise rather than something that should be banished from your child’s life at all costs. Through out, it provides personal insights, case studies and practical advice about how failure should and can be embraced to help your child grow into a happy, healthy and successful adult. It also shows the flip side, that if children are not allowed to fail, it can harm their ability to develop into well-rounded individuals capable of living independent lives.
Why is it important to know? We all wish to protect the children in our lives, but we need to make sure that by protecting them from all life has to throw at them that we are not doing them more harm than good. This book shows you how to walk that delicate line between supporting and protecting your child when they really need it, and over-parenting them in a way that is harmful to their personal development. This is a book that, once read, will change the way you look at your child’s life forever, and if you put what you learn from it into practice, you’ll soon see that it’s a change for the better.
What are the key take home messages? 1. Failure is a critical part of everyday life, and learning how to cope with it is the best way to develop the inner self-confidence needed to succeed in adult life; 2. Competence is confidence born out of experience, and if we don’t allow our children to build up a bank of experiences, both good and bad, then no matter how much confidence we inspire in them, they will never develop competence, even in the smallest of every day tasks; 3. If we don’t trust children with age-appropriate responsibilities (regardless of how well they actually do them), they will never learn to take responsibility for their own actions, as a child or as an adult; 4. Kids who are over-praised for their intelligence, rather than their willingness to try, even if it results in failure, become highly risk-averse and are often unwilling to participate in everyday life in case they fail, and prove those who have praised them for their intelligence wrong; 5. Playing with their peers is important for many different areas of a child’s development, helping them improve their communication skills, their interpersonal skills, their understanding of the needs of others, their knowledge of social rules, and their mental and physical abilities, but when playing, they must be allowed to fail. If parents are constantly stepping in to solve every little squabble, dispute and fall, then their children will never learn how to solve such problems for themselves; 6. A fear of failure can be highly damaging to a child’s education, and the later they learn how to deal with educational failures, the more damage it will do to their ability to develop into happy and healthy adults. This means that from an early age, children should be allowed to fail so that they can learn the lessons of failure, rather than learn to depend on others to solve their problems. If they forget their homework, they need to be allowed to deal with the disappointment of their teacher, rather than have you run home and get it for them; if they fail to complete a project on time, they need to be allowed to hand it in half-done, rather than have you sit up all night completing it for them, so they learn the importance of time management; if they fail a test because they didn’t study enough, they need to feel the pain of that failure so they learn to plan their studies better the next time round, rather than have you try to talk their teacher round to providing a passing grade for sub-standard work.
Who is the author? Jessica Lahey is a teacher and parent, and through these twin roles, she has seen with her own eyes the important role that failure can have in the development of happy, self-confident, competent children who will grow into happy and successful adults.
How technical is this book? This is a non-technical book and the information it contains is presented in an easy to read and understand collection of personal insights, case studies and advice. However, this simple and clear style in no way detracts from the powerful and important message it contains.
How long will it take to read? At 267 pages, this is not a short book. While it would probably take a couple of days to read it from cover to cover, it is presented in a manner that makes it relatively easy for busy parents to dip in and out of it when they can find the time. None-the-less, because of the importance of its message, I would urge all parents to find the time to read it, and to do so sooner rather than later.
Are there other books by the same author? To date, The Gift of Failure is the only book written by Jessica Lahey.
Links To Purchase This Book
About The Author: This post was written by Colin Drysdale, the creator of How To Raise A Happy Genius.
The links contained in this post are affiliate links. This means that we will receive a small commission for each purchase made after clicking on a link. This allows us to run this website and provide the information it contains free of charge. If you don’t want us to receive this commission, simply visit your preferred online store directly and search for the product there.