Dangerous thing

International Childrens Day today. In this age of helicopter parenting, “failure” seems like the last thing ambitious parents want for their children. In addition to the several previous posts about youthful embrace of failure, here are a few added excerpt for the day:

  • Embracing Losing “Trophies were once rare things — sterling silver loving cups bought from jewellery stores for truly special occasions. But in the 1960s, they began to be mass-produced, marketed in catalogues to teachers and coaches, and sold in sporting-goods stores. Today, participation trophies and prizes are almost a given, as children are constantly assured that they are winners. One Maryland summer program gives awards every day — and the “day” is one hour long…Po Bronson and I have spent years reporting on the effects of praise and rewards on kids. The science is clear. Awards can be powerful motivators, but nonstop recognition does not inspire children to succeed. Instead, it can cause them to underachieve…By age 4 or 5, children aren’t fooled by all the trophies. They are surprisingly accurate in identifying who excels and who struggles. Those who are outperformed know it and give up, while those who do well feel cheated when they aren’t recognized for their accomplishments. They, too, may give up.” – The New York Times “Losing is good for you
  • Embracing Not Yet – “’I heard about a high school in Chicago where students had to pass a certain number of courses to graduate, and if they didn’t pass a course, they got the grade "Not Yet." And I thought that was fantastic, because if you get a failing grade, you think, I’m nothing, I’m nowhere. But if you get the grade ‘Not Yet’ you understand that you’re on a learning curve. It gives you a path into the future… First of all, we can praise wisely, not praising intelligence or talent. That has failed. Don’t do that anymore. But praising the process that kids engage in: their effort, their strategies, their focus, their perseverance, their improvement. This process praise creates kids who are hardy and resilient.” – Carol Dweck TED, “The power of believing that you can improve
  • Embracing Danger – “With kids, if you strip risk out of their lives you do them a disservice, because the truth is, the world is full of risk – in business, relationships, everything. You empower your kids when you teach them how to manage risk, how to cope with it.” Bear Grylls, Sunday Times “Best. Dad. Ever!” (the book at top outlines 5 “dangerous” activities for kids to do including playing with fire, crossing town on public transport, dropping from a high place, sleeping in the wild, and taking apart an appliance)