The Gift Of Failure Book Summary By Jessica Lahey

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The Gift of Failure (2015), written by Jessica Lahey, seeks to help caregivers relinquish control over their children and let them fail.

In it, she sets out her argument that this approach gives children an invaluable learning opportunity through which they can discover important values and skills, while developing confidence, independence and a sense of responsibility.

Lahey looks at what happens when parents give their kids freedom and helps them understand how to cope with failure.

She argues that this is often safer than shielding children from the world because it allows them to strengthen vital characteristics such as resilience, creativity and problem-solving in the face of difficulty.

The Gift Of Failure Book

Book Name: The Gift of Failure (How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed)

Author(s): Jessica Lahey

Rating: 4.6/5

Reading Time: 16 Minutes

Categories: Parenting

Author Bio

Jessica Lahey is an incredibly esteemed and talented writer.

Her work has been seen in renowned publications, such as The New York Times and The Atlantic magazine, where she is currently a contributing writer.

She's also a gifted speaker and has delivered talks about her various works to highly engaged audiences.

Adding to her impressive list of previous accomplishments is her most recently released book, "The Gift of Failure", which she wrote with great insight and care.

It's already receiving positive acclaim, making it evident that Jessica knows how to combine her powerful voice and impressive writing skills in order to create something truly special.

How We’re Robbing Our Kids Of The Skill Of Failure: What Monkeys, Cleaning House And Saying “Good” Can Show Us

Cleaning House

Failure is an essential part of life.

We need to experience it in order to learn and develop our skills, so why do we deny our kids the right to fail? The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey helps us understand why this is the wrong approach and provides insight on how we can let our children discover their own strengths, weaknesses, and passions in life.

Lahey argues that, by shielding kids from failure, we’re preventing them from learning how to cope with it and motivating themselves.

She also suggests that structure and guidance are needed for a better environment for our children to thrive in – but it should never take away their chance at exploration and learning through mistakes.

At the end of the day, we should remember to give ourselves (and our children) the greatest gifts of all: the freedom to make mistakes.

That’s what will truly help them become successful and independent adults who live with confidence and resilience.

How Society’S View Of Children Changed From Useful To Useless Over Time

Throughout history, our view of children and their education has evolved drastically.

Dating back to the seventeenth century in New England, where practical tasks such as working on the family farm took precedence over school, children had immense responsibilities.

Philosopher John Locke advised parents to let their children make mistakes and face the consequences in order to strengthen their minds and give them the skills to bounce back from failure.

Fast forwarding to nineteenth century America, about one out of six children aged 10–15 were employed in factories — treated as practical, cheap labor with little thought given to how it affected their development.

Regulations started being introduced in the early twentieth century which prohibited child labor practices and allowed parents to focus more on caring for their child as a developing adult.

Psychological books also began emerging, leading to Nathaniel Branden’s 1969 bestseller The Psychology of Self-Esteem which argued that self-esteem should be central when taking care of children.

These changes continued into modern day parenting, which often focuses on sheltering kids rather than making them face life’s challenges.

We now realize that allowing children make mistakes is essential for lifelong learning, resilience and personal growth — something that many generations before us were aware of all along.

Parents Should Push Children To Develop Intrinsic, Not External, Motivation

It is essential for children to experience their own motivation, not external rewards, in order to be enthusiastic about tasks.

Numerous studies have shown that providing regular external rewards impedes intrinsic motivation.

For example, psychologist Harry Harlow found this when he ran an experiment with monkeys and found that the animals who received rewards no longer had any interest in solving tasks.

In humans too, we can see that if a child truly likes undertaking something, they’ll stick with it even when difficulties arise.

To let them find their own way of problem-solving, parents need to take a step back and let children decide how they want to achieve something without expecting gifts or monetary rewards in return.

What parents should do instead is set nonnegotiable expectations such as homework deadlines.

If their children don’t adhere to those expectations then they should allow them to fail as this is the best way for kids to learn how to cope under pressure and develop enthusiasm-boosting self-determination.

Autonomy-Supportive Parenting Is The Key To Unlocking A Child’s Potential

Child's Potential

When it comes to our children’s education, the key is to guide them in decision-making that allows for autonomy.

Parents have a very important role in this process, but it should not be one of ruling their children’s lives and making all their decisions for them.

What is necessary is a style of parenting that actively supports autonomy and independence when children are faced with tasks and frustrations.

Psychologist Wendy Grolnick captured this idea perfectly: she studied autonomy-supportive and controlling parents and found that kids who were controlled by their mothers gave up more quickly than those who weren’t when facing difficult situations during playtime alone.

This doesn’t mean, however, that we should go the opposite route and practice permissive parenting; rather, autonomy-supportive parenting involves setting limits so that your kids can challenge themselves while still knowing they’re secure in your guidance.

In addition, research has shown that children much prefer parents who hold them accountable for failure over those who snoop around too much.

It may take time for some to get used to autonomy-supportive parenting compared to being a rule dictator, but the goal remains the same—to support your child on his or her journey rather than taking control of it.

One helpful way to do this is through recognizing successes as well as failures so you guide your child in helping them find solutions to problems on their own instead of just providing answers.

In effect, allowing your child to struggle will help build patience when needed most and also help you understand how to trust yourself more as a parent despite occasional bumps in the road.

How To Give Effective Praise That Motivates And Encourages Growth

When it comes to your child’s development, the type of praise you give can be extremely important.

Most parents want to help encourage their children in any way possible, and praising them is a great way to do just that.

However, it’s not about how much praise you give, but what kind of praise you give.

Rather than praising a child for who they are, focus on praising their efforts and behavior.

This helps create a growth mindset — the idea that everyone can develop skills as long as they practice and work hard.

Research conducted by psychologist Carol Dweck showed that students rated higher in terms of “smartness” gave up faster than those valued for how hard they worked when faced with challenging tasks.

In Japan, there isn’t the same belief that some subjects are only for talented children.

Rather, all students are believed to have potential to achieve success in whatever area they pursue if given enough effort and practice.

As such, try emphasizing the importance of effort when rewarding your child – this will help them learn that talent is anything but fixed and can be cultivated through dedication and perseverance.

Teaching Children Responsibility Through Household Chores To Encourage A Sense Of Purpose

Household duties are a great way to give kids an early sense of purpose.

When children take part in housework and become responsible for certain tasks, they start to feel that what they do matters.

This is incredibly important as it enables them to live an autonomous, self-driven life.

In fact, research on suicide has shown that a lack of purpose is one of the most reported problems among those who contemplate suicide.

It’s also beneficial for parents to encourage their children to take responsibility for household work.

Even when they make more of a mess than what they started with, resist the urge to jump right in and help – this kind of interruption can be detrimental and teaches kids that independent efforts aren’t important.

Instead, let your child figure things out by themselves and offer assistance if needed – this way, they will be able to develop their own system for getting things done.

You should also remember not to assign duties according to age but rather the level of complexity.

For example, young children can do simple tasks such as setting the dinner table whereas older ones can cook meals or start doing minor repairs like changing light bulbs.

Most importantly though, keep in mind that assigning duties isn’t about having an immaculate home but more about working together as a family to form stronger bonds!

The Key To Social Skills Development For Children: Hands-Off Parenting And Exposure To Diverse Relationships

Social Skills

It’s well-known that children develop largely by way of communication with other children.

Regular, free communication with those their own age is essential for helping them to grow and learn.

Studies have even found it to be a 40% better predictor of eventual academic success than any standardized achievement test such as reading or math tests.

What’s more, developing strong connections and relationships with other kids helps to foster empathy in children.

When they see how their actions affect others through seeing their peers crying after being pushed, they begin to develop an understanding of the consequences of their behavior.

Importantly, though, having friends who don’t share the same interests and are from different social backgrounds can actually benefit your child too.

Exposure to different people increases mimicry skills later in life which makes it easier for them to interact and communicate with new people when meeting salespeople, for example.

Ultimately, parents should strive for upmost hands-off when it comes to allowing children to play whilst being mindful that a degree of intervention may be needed in certain instances such as when dealing with dangerous influences like drugs or violence.

Giving Children Autonomy Over Their Education Is More Important Than Grades

Grades can be a limiting factor for children, as they might focus on their grades more than developing an understanding and appreciation for learning.

One study in Japan demonstrated this effect by comparing the results of two groups of students in math quizzes — one group was told that their results would impact their final grade, whereas the other group was told the purpose of the quiz was to monitor their progress.

In the end, it was shown that the second group had much better performance and gained far more knowledge than those in the first group.

So, instead of paying attention to grades, it’s best to help your child set self-determined goals that are not limited by either the school curriculum or grading expectations.

This will give them a sense of self-affirmation and success when they reach their targets; it also allows them to own up to choices related to their education which gives them an invaluable sense of purpose.

With this approach, your kids can move away from focusing solely on grinding good grades towards an ownership over learning itself — thus gaining a better education overall!

Wrap Up

The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey offers a powerful message to parents about the importance and value of allowing children the freedom to fail, make mistakes and learn from them.

Lahey argues that instead of protecting our children from failure, we should empower and equip them with the necessary tools to understand and accept it as an inevitable part of life.

Through this approach, they can develop resilience, grit and self-sufficiency so they can strive for success later in life.

Hands off the Legos!

Lahey guides us to act more like ‘instructors’ than ‘regulators’, giving our children autonomy over their tasks while providing moral support, encouragement and understanding if things don’t go according to plan.

With this, our kids will progressively learn new skills while becoming better problem solvers—all empowering attributes to possess during challenging times.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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