While parents may feel inclined to protect their children from every situation where they might fail, child development experts say that allowing children to fail is crucial to their development.
“Think of the things you learn when you encounter and move beyond failure,” child psychologist Rahil Briggs, Psy.D., director of the Healthy Steps program at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in the Bronx, NY, said in a story on Parenting.com. “You learn how to tolerate frustration, how to get creative and take different approaches to tasks, and also how to ask for help—all things that are necessary for long-term success in life.”
In a variety of situations, from teaching little ones to eat by themselves, to playing competitive games with your young children, to the little ones comparing themelves to older siblings, it is helpful that the children be allowed to face the situation alone and sometimes to experience failure. So while it might be tempting to let the child win in a board game, you’re not doing him any favors in the long run. But when he does lose, be prepared for a tantrum.
“At this young age, they simply don’t quite have the coping skills. They give really strong, honest, emotional reactions,” Briggs said.
Experts say it’s okay with very young kids to give them a few extra points or a head start to even the playing field if there’s no way they can ever win on their own. But don’t get them accustomed to winning all the time by rigging the game in their favor.