As parents, we always want the best for our child and for our child to succeed at everything they do. It’s in our nature to want to help them and nurture them through everything they do. However, when it comes to early development, failure and making mistakes actually leads to their learning and success!
As your little one grows and tackles new developmental milestones, failure is inevitable. When your child learns to walk, falling down and getting up again as they learn to balance is part of the process! When your little one learns to feed themselves, we all know that very little of that food is going to make it into their mouth — but that’s all part of the learning! Your child is actually learning how to succeed in each of these examples by failing (falling, dropping their food, etc). Learning from their mistakes is how they learn to crawl, walk, eat, climb, write, etc. It builds resilience and encourages confidence!
So, that brings up the biggest questions of all — when should you step in and help your little one with that difficult task and when should you let them make a mistake or fail? Below are a few examples from Michigan State University of how you can help your child learn to succeed through failure!
- Encourage your child to take risks and try new things. Trying new things can be scary, especially if we are worried that if we try, we will ultimately fail. Give your child encouragement to try things outside of their comfort zone, and attempt things they might not be good at right away. By taking risks and trying new things, your child can overcome their fear of failing and learn that when you take risks, you learn so many new things and practice new skills.
- Emphasize your child’s efforts. Not every effort will result in success. When your child is trying to draw a unicorn for the first time, it likely won’t be a perfect picture. This may be discouraging for your child, but try focusing on emphasizing their efforts. You can talk about their work they put into the project, “You worked so hard on this drawing. You tried something new, you did your best! I’m proud of you for working so hard!” Remind your child that great things happen over time; even famous artists start with a rough draft.
- Teach problem-solving skills. Failure often makes us feel stuck and can make someone feel like giving up. Teach your child that through hard work and effort, you can work to solve problems. If they are trying to learn a new skateboarding trick and they just can’t seem to pick it up, help them think about what they can do to solve their problem. Is there someone who knows that trick who can help them? Can they watch a video on YouTube that will help them figure out what they need to do differently? Help your child think about what they can do to keep working and trying.
- Value hard work. Show your child that you value hard work by noticing it happen all around you. Notice those who work hard around you and in your child’s life. Point out the construction workers who are working hard in rain to repair the roads. Write a thank-you note to your mail carrier who works extra hard during the holiday season to help deliver gifts and goodies. Showing gratefulness and appreciation for those that work hard will show your child that hard work is to be valued.
- Engage in self-praise. When children hear you praise yourself, they learn to do the same. Show off your hard work and that you can be proud of yourself for not giving up on tasks that are hard. When you work hard, say out loud, “I’m so proud of myself! I was having a hard time figuring out how to fix the TV, but I kept trying and I did it! Go me!”
- Help your child adopt a growth mindset. Show your young child that making mistakes and failing is normal and something that happens to everyone. It means you tried something new. Failure doesn’t mean an ending—it’s just the beginning. You can teach your child to be a hardworking problem solver that can turn their failures into successes. 
 Kylie Rymanowicz; “The Key to Success is Failure.” Michigan State University: MSU Early Childhood Development. November 13, 2018, https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/the-key-to-success-is-failure