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Parenting Technique: Helping Girls ‘Shake Off' Fear of Failure + Video

By Jean Tracy, MSS

HAVE YOUR KIDS EXPERIENCED FAILURES, even little ones? If so, do they cringe at taking on new challenges? Today I'll share a technique I used with clients as a child and family counselor. You can start using it today.

Below you'll find a link to a short video on goal-setting. It can be used to help kids "shake off failure."

I remember my sons' little league games. Coaches would routinely tell the boys, "Shake it off," when they made mistakes. But how can sensitive kids, especially girls shake off failures?

Typical Childhood Worries

1. Sally gossiped about her best friend, Jane, who found out. Now Sally has a hard time sleeping. She's afraid Jane won't like her anymore.

2. Mary raised her hand to answer a question. Her answer wasn't even close. The kids laughed and called her, "Dumbo." She's stopped raising her hand in class.

3. Carol plays on her little league baseball team. She overthrew 3rd base and the other team made the winning run. Her coach told her to "Shake it off" but she couldn't.

What do all 3 children have in common? They over-think, worry too much, want to be liked, and try to be perfect. These are the ingredients that hold girls back.

Parenting Technique: The Wings of Time

This strategy includes 5 parts:


1. Help your child get in touch with the discouraging feeling from her latest mistake.


2. Ask her to describe her feelings.


3. Tell her to close her eyes and take that same feeling back on the ‘wings of time' when she experienced it in the past.


4. Discuss each event she remembers. Let her know that her feelings of failure have made a connection in her brain that she needs to change.


5. Ask her if she'd like you to help her ‘shake them off,' feel better, and move forward.


Parenting Insights:

The more your youngster connects similar thoughts and feelings together, the stronger they get like, "I'm so dumb. My best friend hates me. I never do anything right." These thoughts create painful feelings that hold kids back from trying. Your goal as the parent is to help your child change the connections in her brain about failure.

Girls have a more difficult time shaking off failures because they think they have to be perfect. They churn worried feelings and thoughts over and over. This prevents them from taking risks like apologizing, raising their hand in class after giving a wrong answer, or shaking off errors and getting back in the game. So what's the next step for ‘shaking off' failures?

Shake It Off


1. Ask your child to stand and physically shake off the bad thoughts and feelings. A small shake of the head may work. If she feels embarrassed, do it with her. It's okay to laugh together.
2. Advise her to physically ‘shake off' future failures as soon as she realizes she's over-thinking and worrying. This can help her get rid of automatic hurtful thoughts and feelings. It will free her to take smart risks, learn new things, and feel enthusiastic about trying.


Could boys use the same advice? Certainly, though girls are more likely to be afflicted with the need to be perfect and liked.

Motivational Mottoes

From my fifth grade teacher, I remember learning the motto, "If at first you don't succeed, try try again," I've relied on it to motivate me when I was afraid of trying.

I suggest you and your child use it, come up with your own motto, or consider one of the following:


1. Hear my cry, "Shake and try!"
2. When I fail, I'll tell my brain, "Shake it off and try again."
3. Losers cry; winners try.


Encourage your child to stop the worrying, shake off failings quickly, and to use whatever motto motivates her. If you do, she'll be the person she was meant to be and she'll be building character too.

Below is your link to the goal-setting video.

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Watch Character Building: Teaching Kids to Set Goals Shaking off failure is a good goal to start with.

Pick up the Goal-Setting Kit and watch your child succeed.

Jean Tracy, MSS, publishes a FREE Parenting Newsletter. Subscribe and receive 80 fun activities to share with your children plus 101 Ways to Get Your Kids to Cooperate.

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