Dear parents, please stop rescuing your children from failure

Failure is how we grow, learn and think outside of ourselves.

Dear parents, please stop rescuing your children from failure

“If our kids don’t fall, they don’t learn to get up.”

My words hung in the air, as I stood next to my friend on a random Tuesday at the park.

She’d been catching me up on her son’s potty training drama and the latest changes to preschool car line. And as her story progressed, both of our eyes had wandered to a stressed-out mom who was chasing her five-year-old through the playground.

She was going up the stairs.

She was hovering under the slide.

She was running through the jungle gym.

At every move, she was trailing behind her son, so that he didn’t make a wrong move and fall down. (Again, this was a five-year-old who could talk and walk and run.)

Of course, we all do things differently, and I’ve no doubt that this mom was doing exactly what she needed to do.

But, I happen to believe there’s something to be said for not always catching our kids before they fall. Because if we don’t let our kids fall down, they’ll never learn to get back up. Whether it’s on the playground or in life.

You see, in my experience, when we feel failure (like, really feel it), we learn to figure it out.

Did you hear that?

We figure it out.

In fact, usually, we figure out a better way. In the process, usually, we experience humility. We grow. We learn. We become more compassionate. But without that initial failure, this beautiful chain reaction doesn’t even have a chance to begin. In fact, in my last five years as a parent, I’ve found that letting my kid’s experience failure is the very best parenting tool I have.

And so, I let my kids fall down.

Within reason, I let my kids get hurt.

And sometimes (and this may blow your mind), I even let my kids feel left out.

The other day, I was watching six kids at my house (as part of my babysitting co-op), and my oldest son started acting rude and aggressively with the other kids. Of course, I tried to stop it. I verbally corrected him. I sent him to timeout. I separated him from the group.

Nothing was working.

Until, eventually, one of the other kids said, “We don’t want to play with you anymore.”

And the rest agreed.

My son kept trying to rejoin the group. He walked to the other side of the circle, to see if another kid would let him in. He said please. He went to his room to find a new toy to offer everyone.

But it was too late.

“No, we don’t want to play with you because you were being mean.”

As I watched it all play out, my first instinct was to ask the other kids to include him.

But then, I realized that if I did that, I’d be sparing my son of the greatest learning experience there is—that of feeling the natural consequences of his actions.

As he ran to me, crying, I hugged him. And I knew exactly what to say.

“If you are rude and aggressive with others, they aren’t going to want to play with you. Let’s try to be kind and gentle and see if they include you again,” I spoke softly into his ear.

It was so easy.

As it turned out, my timeouts and verbal corrections couldn’t hold a candle to the sting of exclusion my son experienced as a natural consequence of his being rude to the others.

The lesson had been learned. And I didn’t have to do a thing but let it play out.

I distinctly remember the day in high school that my mom forgot to pick me up from school. I’m the oldest of four children, and no doubt she had had a long day with the other kids and it’d slipped her mind. After waiting at school for an hour, I walked the three miles home, and when I got to my house, I slammed our front door with rage, stormed into the kitchen and screamed in my mom’s face that she’d forgotten me.

Later that night, my dad told me I no longer had a ride to school the next day. I figured my mom would still take me, but when the morning came, she refused. It was midterms, and as a straight-A student ready to start college applications, being late wasn’t an option. In my mind, missing these tests would’ve been the end of my academic career. I pleaded with my mom. I told her she was ruining my future and everything I’d worked for. But she held her ground, and that day, I walked to school. And I missed my tests.

My mom didn’t rescue me from failure. She let me suffer through it.

She let me figure it out.

She let me learn.

And now, as a mom myself, I’ve realized that I want my kids to experience failure because failure is how we grow, learn and think outside of ourselves. It’s how we self-educate to learn what’s right and respectable, and what’s not. It’s how we become responsible and compassionate.

Falling down makes us better. Because we learn how to get up. Rescuing my kids from failure isn’t my job. My job is to love my kids through life’s disappointments and give them the tools in life to figure things out for themselves.

And so, the next time you want to save your child from skinned knees or a bruised ego or missing the bus, remember that you might be cheating them out of the greatest education they could ever have—the power of knowing that there are natural consequences for their actions and that they are ultimately responsible for the choices they make.

Raise up your child in the way he should go. And when he fails along the way, stay on the sidelines and enjoy your front-row seat to watching him grow, learn and start to think outside of himself.

Join Motherly

Create a school-ready capsule wardrobe for your kids

Dress for success whether virtual learning or in the classroom!

Tina Meeks

Going "back to school" this year may be less of a literal statement than in years past—but there is just as much reason for your kids to celebrate moving on to new grades. Just like in every new school year, a big part of the fun is refreshing your kids' wardrobe with clothes that allow them to express themselves.

Even if finding back to school clothes this year doesn't include a trip to the mall, you can still make an event of it by shopping H&M's kids collection from your computer. Pull up another chair for your shopping buddy and get the cart started with these fave capsule wardrobe options we've already scouted.

Here are our favorite picks:

A t-shirt made for play

H&M t-shirt

Call them essentials, not basics. A graphic t-shirt aces the test when it comes to being perfect for school. And because your little student will probably want to wear something that expresses their personal style as often as possible, it's great to know the shirts can stand up to school time, playtime, downtime and everything in between!


Dressed-up casual shorts for total comfort

H&M boy shorts

Whether pulling up a chair for a virtual meeting with the class or heading back to the school for in-person learning, some comfortable, yet stylish, shorts will help your kid focus on the real tasks at hand: learning—and having fun while doing it!


Layers for when seasons change

H&M sweatshirt

When it comes to feeling comfortable at school, layers are the MVPs. Whether the AC is blasting or the day started off cool and is warming up quickly, having a unique sweatshirt to shed or add will help your kid look cool while staying warm.


A bit of flair with distressed denim

H&M distressed jeans

A school staple for generations, denim is both classic and continually fashionable with updates like distressing and new wash colors. If you're shopping online for jeans this year, take note of H&M's generous return policy—your kids can try on the orders at home and return anything that doesn't fit without a trip to the store.


A fashion statement piece

H&M girls skirt

What's better than expressing yourself through a stylish outfit when school is back in session? Still feeling perfectly comfortable and ready to tackle anything the day holds while looking so good. With so many fashion-forward looks available at budget-friendly prices, H&M's children's collection means every kid can find an outfit that speaks to them.


Some comfy kicks

H&M boys shoes

A sure way to put a little pep in your child's step this year, cool and cozy shoes are a staple on all back-to-school shopping lists for good reason. (Plus, it's fun to compare them to last year's shoes to see how much your kid has grown!)


Anything-but-basic blouses

H&M girls blouse

Whether in the classroom or showing up for a video call with the class, a styling blouse or button-down shirt is a great way for your student to comfortably dress up the day. Better yet? Style doesn't have to come at the expense of comfort with so many made-to-move tops designed just for kids.


A shirt ready to go whatever the day holds

H&M boys shirt

With "going to school" meaning anything from showing up in the classroom to doing a virtual session, it's important to have clothes that are perfect for anything the day holds. A classic, cotton shirt with a fashion-forward design is a great way to keep your student feeling ready to start the year with an A+ attitude.


This article was sponsored by H&M. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

12 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


20 baby names to set your child up for success

What do Jacqueline, Morgan, Madison and Parker all have in common?

They say picking a baby name is an art, not a science. But when it comes to figuring out which baby names have been linked to successful futures, there has actually been some scientific work on the subject.

Keep reading Show less