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Adults often tell kids winning isn’t important or all that matters is that you do your best. But do adults ever model that to children? Let’s chat today about why it’s actually important for your kids to realize that Mom and Dad aren’t always the best, and why it’s okay that your kids see you learn—and fail.
Recently I was invited by some friends to participate in a 5K.
Now, I’m not a runner. Not. a. runner. But my friends like to do 5Ks and I thought, hey, something different, why not?
The day of the 5K ended up being a rainy and windy 40 degrees—otherwise known as miserable.
But my friends and I did the 5K anyway. I even ran a tiny bit, which was crazy—since I’m not a runner.
Why am I telling you this?
My boys came to cheer me on and got to see me come through the finish line, with a time of 45 minutes, being way closer to last place than first place.
And it was perfectly okay.
I wanted my sons to see it’s okay to do something and not be the best and not be the winner. I wanted my sons to see that it’s totally fine to just do it because it is something different and it makes you step out of what you normally do.
It was really good for them to see I’m not amazing at everything I do. For them to understand there are things I’m good at, and there are things I really suck at—even though I am (gasp) Mom.
And it’s good for my kids to see how I deal with things when I’m not the best or when I don’t win.
It’s really important that we model that to our kids.
We tend to stick to things we’re good at. That’s not always the best thing.
I’ve played guitar since I was ten years old.
What this means is I pick the guitar up and I know what I’m doing. You generally won’t see me struggling through chord changes or rhythms or things of that nature. I’ve also been given a keen ear which helps me to hear a song on the radio and figure out how to play it on the guitar pretty quickly.
See, I’ve got two sons. My youngest wanted to learn to play guitar. If he didn’t understand something, he just plowed through it until he got it. He works until his fingers hurt. He is not easily discouraged. He says Oh well, takes a break and tries again the next day.
But my oldest is a completely different animal. If he can’t do it perfectly within a couple minutes, he gets frustrated and gives up. He doesn’t want people to think he can’t do it. He’ll sit on the sidelines and not take a chance, simply because he doesn’t want to fail.
We all have different personalities when it comes to how we view failure, and our willingness to try something we might not succeed at. I am discovering it is really important that my children see me fail at things. I want my kids to know I’m human. That I’m far from perfect. That I’m still learning, too.
Your kids need to see you learning.
We are the adults. And because of that, we forget sometimes that our children haven’t seen the work it took us to master an instrument or tear down a motor or bake a cake or complete algebra. Sometimes all they see is that we can do it and they can’t. And depending on a child’s personality, not seeing the work part of it can make them believe it wasn’t there.
As if we’re a natural at everything…and they aren’t.
This can be especially hard for homeschooled kids. If you’re not in a room of thirty other kids with varying abilities, and the only person you can compare yourself to is mom, dad, and your siblings, you might not get the chance to see people struggle as much through math, music, writing, etc.
And depending on a child’s personality, that might morph into I’m the only person struggling. I’m the only person who doesn’t get this.
I want my kids to know that I’m still learning every single day, and that I still ask questions—a ton of them. I want my kids to know that I, an adult, don’t always have the answers and when I need to know something, I go looking for the answer.
I want my kids to live a life where learning is natural in the sense that they see everyone does it. Everyday. No one ever gets to a point where they have nothing left to learn.
When you are brought up learning in an environment where questions and not knowing and seeking answers are normal and modeled by the adults in your life, I think you’re going to be pretty darn unstoppable.
Your kids need to see you fail.
It’s good for your kids to see that you tried something and it didn’t work because it helps them realize that not everyone can do everything. It also teaches them how to handle failure. It’s good for them to know that failure is not a dirty word.
Moving to our farm has shown the kids that both their father and I are, in the most honest sense of the phrase, learning as we go. Google and YouTube are our friends. We ask people. We try. We experiment. Sometimes we completely screw up.
Sometimes we totally fail. And we try again.
Help your kids to know that it’s important to keep learning and that it’s okay to fail while doing so by modeling that exact thing in your home. Failure actually is an option, and it’s an absolutely okay side effect from taking the chance at learning something new.