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Let Him Fail


His failure is okay AND so necessary for his development.

“There is no failure – only feedback.”

As the new school approaches – it is time to assess and recognize:

  • He is a year older – are you ready to be a year older too?
  • Are you ready to recognize and welcome his new abilities?
  • Or are you still thinking of him as that younger boy?

I provide professional development to teachers. As I drove into an elementary school parking lot to observe in classes, I was speechless as I watched ALL of the parents carrying backpacks, lunch boxes, and musical instruments. Less than 1 in 10 children were carrying anything that belonged to them! Boys and girls were jumping over puddles and greeting friends – while parents schlepped!

I asked the teachers about this and wondered if I should bring it up at my parent evening talk. There was a resounding “Yes!” When I spoke to parents about how boys need to be of service and we need to provide them with that opportunity, I challenged the parents to go on strike and stop carrying anything that their children needed for school. After some sideways glances at each other, most agreed.

When I returned a month later for follow-up work, I immediately noticed the children carrying their backpacks by themselves. Teachers noted the transition into the school day was easier and much less chaotic.

“That” Call

“Mom, I forgot my lunch.”

“Dad, I forgot my homework and my teacher’s gonna kill me!”

(Insert tears here, if that’s your child’s nature.)


Are you the parent that stops what you’re doing and rushes said item to school?

I beg you now, dear parent, it is time to let him fail.


Will he starve? No.

Will he have to interact with friends or a teacher and ask for help? Yes.

Will he experience some uncomfortable emotions? Yes.

Will he remember his homework or his lunch the next time? Yes!


Will he learn resilience?

Creative thinking?

Making do?

Problem solving?



But, not if you are constantly fixing things for him.

When he fails, he will learn to get himself organized.

Your son may see how well you have things under control and decide that he doesn’t need to because Mom (or Dad) will take care of it. Unless you’re planning to go to college with him, the time to relinquish some control and organizational management IS NOW.

Help him design a system to stay organized.

  1. Let him implement the system. After he’s tried it for two weeks, help him make the changes he needs to adjust his system.
  2. Take an arm’s length approach.
  3. Be interested and engaged. Your role now is to ask the right question so he can find the answer that works best for him.

Recognize that he is a year older and let him grow into this year and experience all of his new capabilities THIS YEAR.

Keep in mind…  “There are no mistakes, only opportunities.”

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