Modeling Failure for Our Kids


Your kids know you’re not perfect. Use this as a tool in your parenting toolbox to your advantage.

Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.

Brené Brown

As a parent, I often find myself trying to present the best version of myself to my children. I want them to see me as a strong, confident, empowered woman. I want them to learn from me how to do the right things and how to avoid the wrong things.

But as life unfolds, it doesn’t really work out that way, does it? While I might want to model the right things for my children, there are going to be lots of times that I make mistakes and show them in my words and actions things I hope they will never replicate.

We are all flawed, broken human beings. The idea that I am not going to sin against my children, that I am not going to wound or disappoint them is a lie.

I’m going to have failures in life. So how can I use those mistakes to help my children grow?


Admit Mistakes

Verbally acknowledging our mistakes helps our kids see that we are human just like them.

One of the ways that we can use our own failure to teach our children is by simply owning it. Verbally acknowledging our mistakes helps our kids see that we are human just like them. It also empowers us to have healthy, open lines of communication with our children.

By talking through a mistake I made with my children, I’m helping them see that admitting wrong is not weakness but is instead a very healthy way to live. Admitting mistakes also equips our children with the tools they need to admit their mistakes to us and others as they go about their lives.


Discuss Solutions

Many times in my life as a child, I knew that I had failed at something and I honestly didn’t know what to do with that. It hurts to not get something right, especially if you’re at all prone to perfectionism like me. Instead of developing a healthy language for talking about failure and mistakes, I simply tried to medicate those negative, messy feelings. Ultimately, this devolved into serious self-loathing and unhealthy coping skills.

Navigating failure with our kids shows them that living a life of grit and determination is worth it.

When we discuss our failures with our kids and let them in on the conversation, we’re modeling for them what it looks like to figure something out and try again. We’re showing them that grit and determination is worth it. We’re using our frustration and struggle to help our children see that making mistakes is simply a part of life. And we’re giving them tools for how to self-reflect and grow from their failures.

Doing this equips our children with the confidence they will need to embrace failures in their life and allow those experiences to mold and shape them into stronger, more self-sufficient people. It helps them see that there is a way out of the situation and that it’s okay – healthy, even – for one to admit that they don’t always have the answers.


We as parents need to make ourselves vulnerable to our children and open our hearts up to let them see what goes on inside a person when they work through failure in an appropriate way. As we continually do this, we will build bonds with our children and help them develop important skills they will take with them into adulthood so that they in turn can also live a life characterized by openness and care for the people around them.

It’s not easy, I know. But like most good things, I’ve found it to be worth the work.

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