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May 30, 2014

When should you let your child fail?

by Carol Lloyd, Executive Editor

Tales of failure!

Glitter and glue drip off the table. Paper, strewn across the room, marks a path of frustration leading to the crumpled figure of your third grade daughter.  The time is 9:00 pm, exactly 12 hours before she is supposed to turn in her first and only social studies project of the year.

What do you do? Rescue her? Lecture? Stand back and let your child experience the consequences of her own actions?

The virtues of failure

Every day as parents, we face this dilemma.  When should you let kids make their own mistakes, and when should you swoop in and protect them from their shortsightedness, immaturity, and, er, stupidity? 

In an era of tiger moms and helicopter dads, it’s easy to recognize the telltale signs of overprotectiveness in other parents while simply seeing your own nurturing urges as reasonable. But if all our impulses guide us to protect our kids, how do we know when it’s time to let our children experience failure? How do you teach them not to be afraid to make mistakes (and learn from them)?  And when is it better to do whatever you can to protect them from hurt?

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This week, we're going to explore these questions and more with Today Show parenting expert Michele Borba and NBA star Adonal Foyle in our online parenting chat about the upsides to failure and what kids learn from the experience. This chat, called "Letting Kids Fail & Grow" is part of our ongoing Emotional Smarts series where we ask preeminent (and often divergent) experts to share their stories and actionable advice for parents to take home. 

So please join us June 4 at 11 am PST. But first, sign up and submit your questions. Then, on Wednesday, meet us online at the appointed time: 11 am PST.

Add your voice to this national conversation

Have a story about failure and kids? Is there a moment when you learned about the virtues of falling flat on your face? Or a time that you stepped back and let your child dive headlong into a serious mistake? We want to hear it. Share your experience or your child’s tale of triumph or woe on the Google+ Hangout page, submit it in a comment below, or write it up as an original blog and send it to us at emotionalsmarts@greatschools.org with the subject line: Letting kids fail.

We'll publish the best submissions and promote them in our newsletter!  Hope to see you on Wednesday!

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