Dear Mr. Morton- Our 6th grader is afraid of failure. He refuses to try anything new unless he’s sure he’ll be number one. How can we change his attitude and encourage him to not fear failure and to take some risks?- Parents
Dear Parents- He’s smart enough to know that you can’t fail at anything if you don’t compete outside your comfort zone. As long as he walks around sucking oxygen, he’ll experience periods of self-doubt, lack of confidence, some fears and, of course, some failures. Your son must discover that happy and successful people, on average, have experienced more failures than successes and that there is no failure except in not trying.
For example, I enjoy watching the TV program “Biography” on the ARTS (A&E) channel, which highlights successful people like Cher, Sammy Davis, Jr., Connie Francis, Dean Martin and Jean Harlow…all who experienced stormy disappointments, unfair manipulations, and dim-witted fiascoes during their rise to fame.
Years ago, I took my young daughter (now age 35!) to Cleveland’s Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame to learn how prizewinning musicians overcame their failures. We were amazed at the rejection letters received by Simon & Garfunkle. One read: “You can play at the Chataqua Lake Summer Festival but we won’t pay for your bus ride. Find a patch of grass far away from the main events.” I love the U-2’s thumbs-down letter: “We can’t personally respond to the many letters we receive…this form letter is to let you know we cannot use you right now.” The point is, these celebrities could easily have become washouts, but they never quit.
Maybe it’s good when youngsters have a few early letdowns. Think of the sports coach who has no early losses and faces the pressure of trying to maintain an undefeated season. He must learn that it takes many years of effort, and failure…to become an overnight success.
Lastly, scroll down the right margin to "H. TAKING RISKS NECESSARY FOR GROWTH" and view the daily updated newspaper articles and videos on the topic."
Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. has recently retired from the positions of school psychologisst and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership and Policy Studies at BGSU. Concerns about family, educational, or parenting issues? Contact him at the FAMILY JOURNAL