Failure. We’ve all been there. Even those seemingly-perfect people on Instagram, we promise. Where do we even begin with all the ways we’ve collectively failed?

  • A more than suspect driving test? …..check.
  • A wobbly occupational exam? …..check.
  • Abandoned New Year’s resolutions? …..check.
  • Ruining dinner by forgetting to take it out of the oven? …..check!

There are moments when we realize that we are not as innately good at something as the next person. There are times when we are as passionate as Leonardo da Vinci was about walking on water, and, like him, we stumble and fall.

We all know that failure is a fact of life. While it can be tempting to shield kids from failure, the sooner your children experience it in a supported context, the better equipped they’ll be to become determined and courageous adults.

Ready, Mindset, Go

Academic studies have shown that our attitudes in the face of failure are key indicators of future success. Carol Dweck, a Stanford professor of Psychology, identified mindset as the key difference between people who go on to either stumble or thrive professionally.

A ‘fixed mindset’ is one in which you believe you have a finite amount of talent. When things are easy peasy lemon squeezy, great. But faced with unforeseen challenges and moved out of comfort zones, people with a fixed mindset tend to fall apart.

The positive interpretation of the phrase ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going’  is the epitome of a ‘growth mindset’. This paradigm frames failure as a learning curve. If “The Growth Mindset” were a superhero, then perseverance would be their superpower.

Thomas Edison said, “The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.” Talk about a light bulb moment. Who needs big words like determination when stick-to-itiveness sounds so much cooler? Our point is that greatness is usually the product of effort and not the result of being able to avoid failure.

Incentivize a Growth Mindset

By incentivizing your kids, you can cultivate healthy life perspectives regardless of challenges they will inevitably come up against. Now, we’re not suggesting that you sacrifice chunks of financial resources in the name of good parenting. Rather, consider letting your young ones attempt design, engineering, or other creative projects and reward innovative problem-solving with affordable prizes, letting them choose the family dinner menu for the evening, or giving them a one-night reprieve from chores.

If there’s something more substantial that your child has their eye on, help them work up to it. It’s never too early to learn the value of chipping away at long-term goals. Plus you’ll teach them to develop grit: the ability to work patiently towards long-term goals, even in the face of failures or setbacks, and maintain interest in them over time. Eventually, they’ll learn to imagine something they want to achieve that may be years away, and through self-motivation, they will independently take the steps necessary to reach that lofty goal. Major parenting win!

Of course, these objectives don’t need to be academic 100% of the time, and it goes without saying that they shouldn’t be something you push to keep an unfulfilled youthful quest of your own alive. So you wanted to be a pro tennis player or a prima ballerina? Coach other people’s children! Beyond modeling kindness, the best gift parents can give children is the freedom to chart their course, make mistakes and take responsibility for their actions.

About Galileo’s Camps

Galileo’s summer camps live and breathe the growth mindset. Campers learn how to evaluate ideas and improve on them by trying new approaches. They make and break stuff.

Sure, teamwork makes the dream work and we foster collaboration, but we also give kids the room and tools for independent decision-making. As much as you love your children, you want them to leave your house one day!

Jokes aside, our camps help kids to recognize that mistakes are part of innovation, and that the process of building something can be difficult but ultimately satisfying. It’s an invaluable lesson that will carry them through life.

If you’re interested in learning more about our art, science, and outdoor summer camps in your area, click the button below to find a camp 👇

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