Always remember that failure is an event, not a person. ( Zig Ziglar)


Everyone fails at something some time. But for teenagers, a failure can turn a single event such as getting a F on an algebra test or not making the sports team into something that defines who they are. Your teen may believe they are a failure. If your teen finds themselves in this space, they may need your help in shifting their thinking. Here are a few ways to make sure your teen understands that a failing grade is an event and it is not who they are or that they will be failures their entire life now. We can all agree that teenagers have big emotions and at times dramatic viewpoints that we as parents need to help them work through.

First failure helps us learn, as an adult you may already appreciate how failure can help you learn. But for your teen with limited life experience, a failure can seem huge. That’s why it’s so important to encourage your teen to see failures as an opportunity to learn because it’s how they deal with disappointments that will help them succeed.

Failure prepares your teen for the adult world. As much as we want to protect our teen, failure is one of the experiences your teen needs to feel. It’s important to give your teen the opportunity to handle failure on their own; this is how they learn the skills they’ll need to manage in the adult world. In doing this, it’s important to anticipate how much responsibility your teen is ready to handle and if they need you, be ready to step in and guide them. Equipping your teen to navigate failure will help them develop the persistence and resilience they’ll need as an adult when the consequences of failure are higher.

Failure is something worth talking about with your teen. This approach allows your teen to work out what went wrong and decide how they might handle a situation differently or change what they are doing to create success. It is an opportunity to create goals, discuss the learning that happened with the failure and how to carry that forward into future situations. Remind your teen that effort matters, this makes sure that they will continue to face challenges in life and understand that disappointment is part of the process and everytime is not a success, but when there is a success, celebrate!

FInally, explain that finding things hard is not a sign of failure. Explain to your teen that mastering complex tasks takes practice. Remind them of their past experiences that were complex and took time to master such as learning multiplication tables or coding in a new language. Encourage your teen to stick to their learning by reminding them that the more they learn, the easier learning will become. Celebrate the wins along the way as your teen masters part of a concept or goes from not making a team, to making the team, to being a starter. All of those steps took work, grit, and resilience. Focusing on the work ethic will help your teen see beyond the end result and enjoy the journey of learning and achieving success.