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Helping your teenager cope with failure

Every parent wants their child or teenager to be happy and successful. But we all know - or we certainly should know - that no-one can be happy and successful all the time, and that through unhappiness and failure we can grow as people, and be motivated to take on new challenges.

By Mumsnet HQ | Last updated Mar 10, 2023

So, in a nutshell, we want children who are robust. Teenagers who can cope with failure and the knocks of life and turn them round into something that motivates them and moves them forward.

You obviously play a role in this, and the way you express yourself to your teen is important, as this Mumsnetter explains: "You could say I feel disappointed that you have done XYZ, but not that they are a disappointment. Semantics maybe, but it comes across quite differently."

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One crucial thing we have to do as parents is never give our kids the impression that failure will mean disaster. That idea will panic and undermine them - making a lie into a truism. The truth is that failure can be helpful, after all it's all about how we cope with what life throws at us, not with what lands on us in itself.

Make time to listen

If your child is coping with something that's gone wrong - bad exam results, perhaps - make sure you've got extra time to spend with him/her.

Your availability speaks volumes about how much you care about your child, not how much you care about his or her exam results, but how much you care about him or her as an individual.

That, in turn, will boost your child's self-esteem at a tricky time.

Make sure, when your child is up against it, that you're ready to do a lot of listening. You don't have to talk - you might just want to be around one another with a lot of silence.

Remember: experts tell us we need to listen to our teenagers three times as much as we need to talk to them.