In the year 2016 Olympic games taught the world an important lesson of life- how to lose with your head held high. Yes, it was not the winners or the number of gold medals won by a country, rather it was a story of losing that caught eyes and warmed hearts. In Rio Olympics, New Zealand Distance runner Nikki Hamblin and US runner Abbey D’Agostino were four laps from the end of the 5000m, when they both collided with each other. Hamblin stumbled down first causing D’Agostino to trip over Hamblin as the latter was running behind her. D’Agostino quickly jumped up and pulled up Hamblin to resume the race. But D’Agostino had injured her right ankle badly, causing her to fall onto the ground again, clutching her legs in pain. At this moment, Hamblin could have resumed the race as this was Olympics, the moment for which she had been training for years. Yet, she stopped, helped D’Agostino to get up and hold onto her, while they both hobbled along the track to reach the finish the race. These two athletes were the last to complete the 500 m race and their Olympic dreams shattered yet it was not a moment of failure for either of them. All they wanted was to finish what they started, finish the race and as they said to the reporters, they planned to be back again for the next Olympics.
This incident is not just symbolic of the Olympic spirit of sportsman ship and determination, but is also a lesson on accepting failure. From the day an infant is born, a set of milestones are laid out in front of them. Some are the biological progressions necessary for development and the rest are social learnings much needed to live in a society. Then follows the much dreaded parental desire-ridden milestone: success. Every parent teaches their child to live life successfully, work hard to achieve goals, to be self sufficient, financially independent and so on. The unwavering lesson is to never stop achieving. But there is one small flaw in this lesson, forgotten and unnoticed- the ignored lesson on failure. The stairway to every story of success is through a doorway of failure. Pick up any article or novel on a successful entity, they will first have a tale of struggle to share. Success is dream, failure is a reality. So teach your children to word hard, teach them to complete a task undertaken for no one needs to be taught to succeed; success is the end product of hard-work and perseverance.
On the other hand, children need to be taught how to face failure. Failure in exams, competitions etc is not the end of the road. It should rather be viewed as an opportunity to strengthen the mind. There are a number of cases reported of children who commit suicide due to trivial matters. Fight with parents, low marks in exams, being made fun of by friends- it is not to downplay the impact of such issues on the mind of a young child rather one needs to evaluate the circumstances that make these instances worthy of not living. Failure makes a person doubt their own abilities, it makes one feel discouraged enough to question the worth of our efforts. However, if friends and family can overpower this dejection with unconditional love and support, the sense of failure can be transformed into an opportunity to strengthen the mind, to look beyond the failure to work hard and try again. Refrain from criticizing your child for failing because more than you, your child is seething from the pain of failure. Point out the child’s mistakes, berate them but also offer solutions, offer words of comfort and kindness, assure them it is not the end of the world.
Parenting is a tricky job and small gesture of unconditional support can go a long way. Sometimes all your child needs is a hug and a reassurance that failure is just a stepping stone to the gateway of success!