PGA Pro Tips: Let The Kids Fail, Please!
We all want the best for our kids. We want to nurture them. Protect them. Keep them safe. Help them avoid making the same mistakes we made growing up. But it has led to an epidemic of helicopter parenting, hovering over kids to protect them from every possible mishap, and it is ultimately sabotaging the very thing we want most - to see kids grow into happy, successful adults.
Sports provide one of the best opportunities for kids to take risks and learn to deal with failure. One of the reasons we believe kids should learn golf is that it also teaches life skills, two of the greatest of which are resiliency and resourcefulness.
Resiliency is about grit; the ability to take whatever life throws at you, persevere, and ultimately prevail. Resourcefulness is about creativity and ingenuity: the ability to meet challenges and solve problems.
Life - like golf - cannot be taught. It can only be learned. And learning involves making mistakes. We need to give kids not only the space but also our permission to make mistakes. To learn by facing failure directly. Yes some of the mistakes can be heartbreaking. But without adversity it is impossible to build resiliency. The risk of failure must always be a possibility because our minds do not function well when the objective is merely to prevent failure or avoid mistakes. Resourcefulness and creativity kick in when we give kids the space to find their own solutions. To experiment, to be creative, and to step outside their comfort zone. It is only when they step outside their comfort zone that they stretch themselves, expanding their horizons which then become the new, greater norm.
The best way to help kids fail successfully is to focus on the positive. In our Junior Golf Academy we do that by stressing the importance of effort over outcomes. We let them know that it is not only normal but expected to make mistakes. We don't focus on what they are doing "wrong": only on ways they can take what they are already doing and make it better. "Winning" is not the barometer for success. Effort is. There is no such thing as failure as long as they keep trying. We help them exercise creativity by playing games and inventing their own solutions. Kids can be amazingly resourceful when we let them. When they are having fun they are teaching themselves two of the most important skills to be successful adults: resiliency and resourcefulness. Give 'em room to make mistakes. We'll all benefit.