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The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed

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In the tradition of Paul Tough’s How Children Succeed and Wendy Mogel’s The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, this groundbreaking manifesto focuses on the critical school years when parents must learn to allow their children to experience the disappointment and frustration that occur from life’s inevitable problems so that they can grow up to be successful, resilient, and self-r In the tradition of Paul Tough’s How Children Succeed and Wendy Mogel’s The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, this groundbreaking manifesto focuses on the critical school years when parents must learn to allow their children to experience the disappointment and frustration that occur from life’s inevitable problems so that they can grow up to be successful, resilient, and self-reliant adults Modern parenting is defined by an unprecedented level of overprotectiveness: parents who rush to school at the whim of a phone call to deliver forgotten assignments, who challenge teachers on report card disappointments, mastermind children’s friendships and interfere on the playing field. As teacher and writer Jessica Lahey explains, even though these parents see themselves as being highly responsive to their children’s well-being, they aren’t giving them the chance to experience failure—or the opportunity to learn to solve their own problems. Overparenting has the potential to ruin a child’s confidence and undermine their education, Lahey reminds us. Teachers don’t just teach reading, writing, and arithmetic. They teach responsibility, organization, manners, restraint, and foresight—important life skills children carry with them long after they leave the classroom. Providing a path toward solutions, Lahey lays out a blueprint with targeted advice for handling homework, report cards, social dynamics, and sports. Most importantly, she sets forth a plan to help parents learn to step back and embrace their children’s failures. Hard-hitting yet warm and wise, The Gift of Failure is essential reading for parents, educators, and psychologists nationwide who want to help their children succeed.


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In the tradition of Paul Tough’s How Children Succeed and Wendy Mogel’s The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, this groundbreaking manifesto focuses on the critical school years when parents must learn to allow their children to experience the disappointment and frustration that occur from life’s inevitable problems so that they can grow up to be successful, resilient, and self-r In the tradition of Paul Tough’s How Children Succeed and Wendy Mogel’s The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, this groundbreaking manifesto focuses on the critical school years when parents must learn to allow their children to experience the disappointment and frustration that occur from life’s inevitable problems so that they can grow up to be successful, resilient, and self-reliant adults Modern parenting is defined by an unprecedented level of overprotectiveness: parents who rush to school at the whim of a phone call to deliver forgotten assignments, who challenge teachers on report card disappointments, mastermind children’s friendships and interfere on the playing field. As teacher and writer Jessica Lahey explains, even though these parents see themselves as being highly responsive to their children’s well-being, they aren’t giving them the chance to experience failure—or the opportunity to learn to solve their own problems. Overparenting has the potential to ruin a child’s confidence and undermine their education, Lahey reminds us. Teachers don’t just teach reading, writing, and arithmetic. They teach responsibility, organization, manners, restraint, and foresight—important life skills children carry with them long after they leave the classroom. Providing a path toward solutions, Lahey lays out a blueprint with targeted advice for handling homework, report cards, social dynamics, and sports. Most importantly, she sets forth a plan to help parents learn to step back and embrace their children’s failures. Hard-hitting yet warm and wise, The Gift of Failure is essential reading for parents, educators, and psychologists nationwide who want to help their children succeed.

30 review for The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ken

    Sure, this book is for teachers in a way, but it's for parents in a bigger way. The title says it all, and if you live in a competitive district where grades and sports and status are the be-all, end-all, you've come to the right book. Too bad you're probably a teacher like Lahey. Too bad you're the choir being preached to. What we need, then, are willing parents. "Willing" as in "to listen." If we can get parents that far (at least the ones who need this), I expect Lahey's arguments and researc Sure, this book is for teachers in a way, but it's for parents in a bigger way. The title says it all, and if you live in a competitive district where grades and sports and status are the be-all, end-all, you've come to the right book. Too bad you're probably a teacher like Lahey. Too bad you're the choir being preached to. What we need, then, are willing parents. "Willing" as in "to listen." If we can get parents that far (at least the ones who need this), I expect Lahey's arguments and research can take it from there. Bottom line (up near the top): Every PTA in the country should be book-grouping this. Read. Sit down. Discuss. Then do, no matter how difficult it may seem. Your child slash student slash favorite person on earth will love you if you do. Stopping the madness, after all, is not easy. Ask those salmon leaping upstream against our cultural whitewater. Grizzlies. Exhaustion. Not easy at all. In the small-world department, Jessica Lahey quotes an English teacher whose son I had for a student years ago. Whoa! I've never had THAT happen before, and it gave an already "immediate" read even more immediacy. In a word (or two): Way cool. In an email blast, I have recommended this book to all of my students' parents, assuring them that they'll be all the better for it, especially if they have questions and concerns about their children's friends, household chores, sports obligations and experiences, homework, and grades. Basically Lahey's message is this: Relax. Take a deep breath. Look at the big picture. Give your child the gifts of autonomy, responsibility, choice. Let them fail and learn from their failures. As one wag puts it in the book, in biology such things are called "evolution." Alas, too many parents have evolved into helicopters, safety nets, excusers (of their kids), accusers (of their kids' teachers or coaches or fill-in-the-blank authority figures). They swoop in to protect Johnny and Suzie from disappointment, failure, frustration. They rationalize. They do the work for their kids. They give their kids a free pass on contributions to the family. They pay for grades and/or for chores. Bad, bad, bad. It doesn't work. And you know, I know, and a certain kid will SOON know that, once he or she hits the dreaded world comma real, a big surprise is in store. One Junior will be unable to deal with because Mom and Dad cruelly denied him the experiences and skills he needed to be a resilient, creative problem solver who knows how to try, try again until he gets it right. (Can I get an amen? Amen!) People of a certain age (ahem) will recognize Lahey's message. It's old school. It's very much the parameters-have-been-set-but-hands-are-off approach my parents used, for instance. They set expectations and communicated them, yes. But then they went about their business while I went about mine -- sometimes with great success, sometimes with great disappointment. If I wanted advice, they were there for me. Otherwise, I was on my own. It was all about learning and desire, not grades and cut-throat competition. Roll call, then: I cannot remember my parents helping me with homework once. I cannot remember my parents squawking about my grades -- yes, even my D in algebra one term -- once. I cannot remember my parents driving to my school to drop off work I had forgotten. Number of times my parents helped me with a science fair project? It is to laugh. Number of times my parents called my teachers when I was given a detention or (once) suspended for fighting? Why would they? Just deserts, was their attitude. Number of times my parents screamed at a ref, ump, coach, or player (much less me) while watching a game I played in? "It's a game," my mom would say if I griped. "Have fun and remember the ump is as human as you are." The problem is, my parents' world looks like Never Never Land now. And practitioners of the 'Copter will say, "That was then, this is now. My kid has to be the best or he just won't get in the school he wants [read: "I want"] ." Right. In flowing prose that reads like butter, Lahey goes over lots of familiar (to education folks) research such as Carol Dweck's work on praise. Empty praise is worthless. Praise for just showing up? Worthless. Praise for a grade? Worthless. It has to be more specific than that. It has to be about the child's own solutions or beginning attempts at same. And I love the quotes Lahey peppers throughout. Voices from the wilderness. Clarion calls of common sense. Examples: When parents step in to defend a child's poor choice or mistake or failure in order to avoid the "consequence" of that action or performance, they tend to lose sight of the fact that if the student does not have the experience of making mistakes and living and learning with the consequence of that mistake or failure, college may be a very difficult experience thousands of miles away from the security of Mom and Dad when he eventually has to deal with an experience of his own. Mistakes are opportunities to grow. Failures or unsuccessful attempts are the same, and students need to live through those experiences to develop a toolbox of coping mechanism to lift them and move them forward. -- public high school teacher/administrator As a college president, ... someone who oversees the review of roughly six thousand carefully crafted applications every year, let me promise you: We don't care. Show me that your kid is great at math, or that she truly loves to play the cello. Tell me he edits the high school literary magazine and has an extensive stash of nineteenth-century Russian novels. But the expensive trips to far-flung poverty? Fifty-two activities scattered across the seven days of the week? Honestly. It doesn't help. Give me a kid with a passion for learning, a kid who has demonstrated some measure of autonomy and motivation. Give me a kid who knows his or her mind. But these things are harder to come by if the child has been tutored and handheld from birth. -- Debora L. Spar, Barnard College president It's all here, from advice to parents of kindergarteners to advice to parents of college students. And yes, advice for teachers like me, too. Well done. Well written. And about time....

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ali M

    I started reading this book at the beginning of the week, two days later I got an email from my sixth grader's math teacher to let me know that he was failing. My child was failing mostly because of lack of effort, laziness and poor organizational skills. We have offered help and tutors to no avail. So when the email popped into my inbox it was the perfect time to make a stand. This book helped reinforce our very firm belief that it is up to our children to do the work. We can offer help and sup I started reading this book at the beginning of the week, two days later I got an email from my sixth grader's math teacher to let me know that he was failing. My child was failing mostly because of lack of effort, laziness and poor organizational skills. We have offered help and tutors to no avail. So when the email popped into my inbox it was the perfect time to make a stand. This book helped reinforce our very firm belief that it is up to our children to do the work. We can offer help and support but past a certain point it is up to them. We sat our son down and told him that we were disappointed, but what he did next was entirely up to him. He could choose to fail if he wanted and there was nothing we could do about it. We discussed his options and the consequences of each. And I do mean discuss, not lecture. He was clearly relieved to be having a discussion instead of being on the receiving end of a lecture. I wrote back to the math teacher outlining our position. I said that we wanted him to fail so that he would learn the consequences of his actions and that we would support him with whatever he decided to do in his classroom. We also told him that we appreciated being informed, but that we believed that the student-teacher relationship was no longer ours to manage. We encouraged our child to make an appointment to discuss his performance and grades with his teacher on his own - which he did. By the end of the week I had received an email back from the math teacher telling me that this was the best parent email he had received in 19 years. I also had a kid with a pep in his step, a smile on his face and a sense of satisfaction that he could handle his own life, his own problems and make his own decisions. This story sums up in a nutshell what the book is trying to tell us. The book is full of great tips and reminders of why it is so important to let our kids fail. I only gave the book four stars because I read it immediately after "How to Raise and Adult" and that book covered much of the same ground more cogently. I also found a section toward the back of the book that recommended you make sure your kids get to school early jarring. Are we letting them fail or are we getting them out of bed? It seemed like an editing oversight. I also only gave the book four stars (it would be 3.5 if I could give it) because it failed to acknowledge the roles that teachers play in the current education environment. Last year my son turned in an assignment 2 months late. We made him complete it and asked his teacher to take it, just so he would have the embarrassment of having to turn it in. We expected and asked the teacher to fail him. Not only did she not give him an F, she gave him an A+ What the heck? How is he supposed to learn from that? My best friend's son was caught red-handed cheating on a Spanish test. Instead of getting an automatic F she was told that it was not school policy to fail and the kid was given another chance to take the test. Again, what the heck? I am not sure what is driving teachers and school districts to make such decisions but they are wrong. I would hazard a guess that teachers are thinking about their own performance evaluations, job security, the need to meet test standards and maintain school averages and the consequences with regard to funding if they do not. It's unfair to lament that parents do not let their children fail when even though we actively lobby for it, teachers won't allow it to happen.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Marie

    “Children whose parents don’t allow them to fail are less engaged, less enthusiastic about their education, less motivated and ultimately less successful than children whose parents support their autonomy.” The bottom line of this book written by parent and educator, Jessica Lahey, is don’t bail your children out. They need to learn from their mistakes. They need to learn how to organize themselves, regulate themselves and deal with mishaps in the world they live in now so that they can become hi “Children whose parents don’t allow them to fail are less engaged, less enthusiastic about their education, less motivated and ultimately less successful than children whose parents support their autonomy.” The bottom line of this book written by parent and educator, Jessica Lahey, is don’t bail your children out. They need to learn from their mistakes. They need to learn how to organize themselves, regulate themselves and deal with mishaps in the world they live in now so that they can become high functioning adults. Jessica Lahey, being an educator talks at length about maintaining good relationships with teachers. She incorporates much history of parenting and various theories and research from many other sources. Anyone reading this will come come away with their own take-away points depending on their children’s ages, family dynamics and unique family stressors. Below I am outlining ten take-away points that I felt were important as regards my own family and parenting philosophy. Grit = ability to attend to a task and stick to long-term goals –> greatest predictor of success. If parents back off pressure and anxiety over grades and achievement & focus on the bigger picture –> grades will improve and test scores will go up. Intrinsic motivation happens when kids feel autonomous, competent, and connected to the people and world around them. People can be divided into 2 mindsets: fixed & growth. A fixed mindset believes that intelligence, talent and ability are innate and remain the same through life, no matter what one does. A person with a growth mindset believes that these qualities are simply a starting point, and that more is always possible through effort and personal development. These people thrive on challenge and understand that failure and trying again is part of becoming smarter, better or faster. Parents should praise for effort, not inherent qualities to foster the growth mindset. The more independent you allow your children to be the more independent they will become. However, children also need rules, behavioral guidelines and structure. Limits make kids feel safe and cared for. Communicate family participation (rather than chores) and avoid nagging or pestering. Free play is undervalued in our children’s social and emotional growth. Peer play is significantly more predictive of academic success than standardized achievement tests, by 40%. Avoid intervening in conflict resolution between children’s friends and siblings. As kids get older, we need to trust them more, and when they live up to our trust, catch them doing things right and praise them. Keep an eye out for good judgement, character and resilience, and let them know that’s what you value above all else. Practical guidelines can help your child manage transitions: create predictability in the household, keep a family calendar, kids should keep their own schedule as soon as they are able, a regular sleep schedule and model calm.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    Hmmm.....I liked the first half of this book. The author, an educator, detailed the problems kids develop when they have parents who hover and who are overly protective (even protecting them from any consequences, absolving them from any wrong doing.) She also talked about not sending mixed messages to the kids and how easy it was for parents to fine tune their dialogue when talking with children. This sounded very positive, well and good. So, what was the problem? In the last half, the angry tea Hmmm.....I liked the first half of this book. The author, an educator, detailed the problems kids develop when they have parents who hover and who are overly protective (even protecting them from any consequences, absolving them from any wrong doing.) She also talked about not sending mixed messages to the kids and how easy it was for parents to fine tune their dialogue when talking with children. This sounded very positive, well and good. So, what was the problem? In the last half, the angry teacher came out, berating parents for all the woes of the public school system. I was wondering if she lost sight of her target audience but it was plain to see she was enjoying rapping the parents on the knuckles with a wooden ruler. So overall, I didn't think her execution was well thought out.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kris

    The thesis of the book is spot-on and this is a much-needed message for many parents who, out of love, seek to "protect" their children from any disappointment, frustration, or failure. Lahey argues, correctly, that such "protection" robs children of opportunities to learn, grow, and become more competent and confident. I thought the book was worthwhile overall, though if I had it to do over again, I wouldn't have read the entire thing but rested content with what I got out of the first few chapt The thesis of the book is spot-on and this is a much-needed message for many parents who, out of love, seek to "protect" their children from any disappointment, frustration, or failure. Lahey argues, correctly, that such "protection" robs children of opportunities to learn, grow, and become more competent and confident. I thought the book was worthwhile overall, though if I had it to do over again, I wouldn't have read the entire thing but rested content with what I got out of the first few chapters. Also noteworthy: I enjoyed her little history of parenting approaches story at the beginning, which I found an interesting integration of various things I had noticed before but never put together into the kind of narrative she offers. It's a helpful story of how we got to this crazy point in our culture's approach to parenting. There are two main flaws in this book: its repetitiveness and her failure to seriously question any aspects of conventional schooling, even those (such as homework) that undermine the kind of experience she argues children need in order to become independent and confident. While the repetitive structure of the book might be helpful to some who want step-by-step instruction for fostering children's independence at every age and in every situation, I found the book kind of a slog as a result. Skim through the later chapters and just think through the principles and recognize that if it isn't good parenting to write your kids' homework when they're in elementary, it's definitely not good parenting to write their college admission essays, help mediate college roommate disputes, or call their professors to dispute grades. While I recognize that concrete advice is often helpful for really knowing how to apply principles, it needs to be pared way down and offered much more selectively in this case. I thought the book was lacking in depth. From her defense of the conventional school approach to homework (even while she acknowledges that it has no academic benefits in elementary) to her idea that children only really start developing executive skills in junior high, Lahey doesn't really get the ideas she's arguing for all the way down. She doesn't see how fully conventional schooling--just like the parenting style she's criticizing--fails to meet children's developmental needs by setting them up to avoid risk and failure at all costs, by prompting children to compare themselves to others rather than developing their own goals and standards for themselves, and by discouraging, by its very structure, creative work according to the child's own interests. In a way, this doesn't undermine the parenting advice she is giving, and it probably makes it more accessible to the many parents who have their children in conventional schools, but this inconsistency still subtly made the book less convincing--and also made it less satisfying and interesting to me. Overall: it's a worthwhile read, but if you have any inferential skills, free to either stop reading or skim lightly after the first few chapters--there isn't much new content beyond very concrete advice added after that.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    This book is a synthesis of the ideas of many good recent books on growth mindset, motivation, over parenting, etc. Because it's not as narrowly focused or research-driven, it's easy for parents to read and has many great reminders. Whether these ideas are new to readers or not, going against the cultural flow takes encouragement and reinforcement, which The Gift of Failure provides.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Courtney

    Read this book while your kids are young if possible! I've read articles about this topic but an entire book devoted to the subject was more helpful than just an article. This is something I struggle with daily and have been working on for a couple of years. It is NOT easy! I sincerely hope I haven't completely ruined my children and can continue to change my ways before it's too late! The book offers some ideas and insight into how to let go and makes some great points about letting kids set th Read this book while your kids are young if possible! I've read articles about this topic but an entire book devoted to the subject was more helpful than just an article. This is something I struggle with daily and have been working on for a couple of years. It is NOT easy! I sincerely hope I haven't completely ruined my children and can continue to change my ways before it's too late! The book offers some ideas and insight into how to let go and makes some great points about letting kids set their own goals and work towards them. As hard as it is, it makes sense that if the child is working towards (for example) getting into a top tier college as *his* goal he will be much more vested in the outcome than if the parents are demanding everything involved in making that happen. In the end, I'm not going to college with them, so they need to find their own motivation, time management, ways to organize and remember their stuff! That said, it's really going to be hard to put into to practice. But I'm going to try.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly Simpson

    A very helpful book. I love the quote, "Out of love and desire to protect our children's self-esteem, we have bulldozed every uncomfortable bump and obstacle out of the way, clearing the manicured path we hoped would lead to success and happiness. Unfortunately, in doing so we have deprived our children of the most important lessons of childhood. The setbacks, mistakes, miscalculations, and failures we have shoved out of our children's way are the very experiences that teach them how to be resou A very helpful book. I love the quote, "Out of love and desire to protect our children's self-esteem, we have bulldozed every uncomfortable bump and obstacle out of the way, clearing the manicured path we hoped would lead to success and happiness. Unfortunately, in doing so we have deprived our children of the most important lessons of childhood. The setbacks, mistakes, miscalculations, and failures we have shoved out of our children's way are the very experiences that teach them how to be resourceful, persistent, innovative and resilient citizens of this world."

  9. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Thesis: kids learn more from having room to fail. Protecting them from failure is not a long-term solution to learning how to become an adult. I just wish this book acknowledged that the "crisis" of overparenting is limited to certain incomes and cultural outlooks, just like college admissions frenzy books are limited to students applying to ivies. in a sense, if you are worried about over parenting, you're in a darn fortunate position to begin with and you are well in America's minority.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tess

    4.25 stars A very interesting read about the importance of intrinsic motivation and how we need to give kids more responsibility and let them learn through the experience of failure. Lots of great ideas. I'd recommend for any of my GR friends who happen to be parents too.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Loralee

    This book was disappointing in a lot of ways. I agree with her overall idea, that parents today largely overindulge their children and shield them from every possible negative outcome, and this is a big problem. My parenting philosophy is that I (generally) refuse to do something for my child that he/she can do for themselves. This, of course, requires that the child has been taught and given adequate preparation/training for that particular task. Lahey sadly seems to believe that after giving b This book was disappointing in a lot of ways. I agree with her overall idea, that parents today largely overindulge their children and shield them from every possible negative outcome, and this is a big problem. My parenting philosophy is that I (generally) refuse to do something for my child that he/she can do for themselves. This, of course, requires that the child has been taught and given adequate preparation/training for that particular task. Lahey sadly seems to believe that after giving birth to said child, the parent should have absolutely nothing to do with them again. This book's overarching soundtrack cries, "Leave them alone! Leave them alone! Leave them alone!" This concept is great fine when talking about homework and chores - I will not find me standing around nagging and hovering, then ultimately rescuing my kids where this is concerned. Children need to face the natural consequences of the choices they make, this is how they learn. But Lahey seems to think that a parent has nothing to do with helping a child get to the point where he can complete his homework or finish a household chore. We don't simply throw our little humans with absolutely no life experience to the wind and cross our fingers for luck. And don't get me started on the chapter about friends and social experience. In a world full of the kinds of temptations our kids are simply not prepared to face alone, you better believe I will be monitoring who my kids are friends with and how they spend their time. No child, or even teen, has the life experience to face those challenges alone without a parent to guide them and teach them. Sounds like she wants to be a parent without actually being a parent.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    This is a great and interesting read, and I was amen-ing it ALL up and down until she got to the part about applying her theory to recess time or children's free play time. She cites one study from New Zealand that found that when teachers stopped interfering in children's free play time at recess, there was less bullying and other positive benefits, but that's pretty much the only scientific data in that chapter. The rest seems anecdotal, from rearing her own children and observations at the pl This is a great and interesting read, and I was amen-ing it ALL up and down until she got to the part about applying her theory to recess time or children's free play time. She cites one study from New Zealand that found that when teachers stopped interfering in children's free play time at recess, there was less bullying and other positive benefits, but that's pretty much the only scientific data in that chapter. The rest seems anecdotal, from rearing her own children and observations at the playground. I don't doubt that helicopter parenting has detrimental effects, but children are often naturally mean to each other. They have to be reminded and corrected to show kindness, take turns, include, etc. That requires adults! I believe there should be some finesse used in those reminders and corrections, and that children should be taught problem solving skills so that they can *one day* handle their own skirmishes. But there is no way that I would let things run wild between my 7-, 4- and 2-year old boys when they're having free play time so that they could experience the "natural" social consequences - one of them might end up needing stitches! Otherwise, such a good book for parents with kids really of any age!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ms Mac

    I basically enjoyed this book, I think some of the advice, particularly about how we undermine children's intrinsic motivation in the pursuit of "performance" is very good, and something a lot of parents and educators need to hear. Lahey is a friendly, engaging writer and pleasant to spend time with. And as a teacher, I found her descriptions of difficult parent/teacher interactions hilarious. Unfortunately, I don't know that she's always aware how circumstances can differ. Lahey is very comforta I basically enjoyed this book, I think some of the advice, particularly about how we undermine children's intrinsic motivation in the pursuit of "performance" is very good, and something a lot of parents and educators need to hear. Lahey is a friendly, engaging writer and pleasant to spend time with. And as a teacher, I found her descriptions of difficult parent/teacher interactions hilarious. Unfortunately, I don't know that she's always aware how circumstances can differ. Lahey is very comfortable throwing around the word "we", and "we" seems to be middle-to-upper class white or asian families with straight, neurotypical children. There's nothing about failures that aren't self-inflicted, and even when one takes a step back, it is in the service of future success. I wish she'd taken these ideas further, and explored how they would play out in different environments.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rita Shaffer

    I am not sure that there was really anything in this book that I didn't already know, but it was really good to feel validated in my thinking. I think as parents we will forever question if we are doing the right things to raise independent, self confidant children who will be happy, productive adults - this book shares some great thinking about this. This is also a good read for teachers. I have to admit that I started reading as teacher, but read most of the book as the mom of an amazing, alth I am not sure that there was really anything in this book that I didn't already know, but it was really good to feel validated in my thinking. I think as parents we will forever question if we are doing the right things to raise independent, self confidant children who will be happy, productive adults - this book shares some great thinking about this. This is also a good read for teachers. I have to admit that I started reading as teacher, but read most of the book as the mom of an amazing, although sometimes infuriating, kind hearted, 12 year old son who I hope someday realizes what an important gift failure is.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Erino

    As a parent and as a teacher, I greatly appreciated this book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Fantastic book. I am determined to let my kids fail!! The ability to attend to a task and stick to long-term goals is the greatest predictor of success, greater than academic achievement, extracurricular involvement, test scores, and IQ . . . . Gritty students succeed, and failure strengthens grit like no other crucible. p xxi Every time we rescue, hover, or otherwise save our children from a challenge, we send a very clear message: that we believe they are incompetent, incapable, and unworthy of Fantastic book. I am determined to let my kids fail!! The ability to attend to a task and stick to long-term goals is the greatest predictor of success, greater than academic achievement, extracurricular involvement, test scores, and IQ . . . . Gritty students succeed, and failure strengthens grit like no other crucible. p xxi Every time we rescue, hover, or otherwise save our children from a challenge, we send a very clear message: that we believe they are incompetent, incapable, and unworthy of our trust. Further, we teach them to be dependent on us and thereby deny them the very education in competence we are put here on this earth to hand down. p xxi Society no longer viewed children as miniature-sized adults, capable of work and resourceful problem-solving, but vulnerable dependents requiring a great deal of well-researched and precise care. p9 She has sacrificed her natural curiosity and love of learning at the altar of achievement, and it's our fault. Her parents, her teachers, society at large - we are all implicated in this crime against learning. From her first day of school, we pointed her progress toward that goal by means of points, scores, and awards. We taught her that her potential is tied to her intellect, and her intellect is more important than her character. We taught her to come home proudly bearing A's, championship trophies, and college acceptances, and we inadvertently taught her that we don't really care how she obtains them. . . . Above all else, we taught her to fear failure, and that fear has destroyed her love of learning. p20 Establish nonnegotiable expectations, such as "Homework will be completed thoroughly and on time" . . . . After those expectations are made clear, older children should be allowed the autonomy to figure out [how]. p28 Intrinsic motivation happens when kids feel autonomous, competent, and connected to the people and world around them. Those three needs must inform our parenting. p29 I had to stop equating the act of doing things for my children . . . with good parenting. p46 The best part about being an autonomy-supportive parent is that all the negative stuff we do to get our children to do the things we want them to do-nagging, nitpicking, hovering, directing-stops. p47 In East Asia there is a common belief that anyone can and should be able to achieve a certain degree of mastery in a variety of areas, whether it be mathematics, art, music, or physical education. It just takes effort. p63 It all gets hard eventually, even the stuff you have a talent for. p65 Children have been deprived of a sense of contribution and purpose for a couple of generations now, and it's time to give it back. p80 The message should not be that one contributes to a family in exchange for money, but that one contributes because one is is an integral part of a cooperative unit, a group of people who depend on each other for both labor and love. p81 The contribution of your children to the daily work of keeping a house and running a family will not only be a boon to the family now, but your kids' increased competence and sense of responsibility will set them apart from their more coddled peers when they head off to college or land their first job. p92 High school is the last opportunity we have before our kids face the real world, with its real consequences. p162 When frustrated, kids gripe, whine, wail that they are hopelessly stuck, and otherwise give up, hoping you will intervene and save them. In these moments, resist the temptation to do so. p218

  17. 5 out of 5

    Katie Tatton

    It's easy to like a book that goes along nicely with what you already think, and The Gift of Failure fit the bill for me. The idea that parents protecting their children from failure is actually a disservice in the long run resonated with me. We've seen the 5th grade science fair projects that were hatched and completed by parents and that type of hovering is easy to dismiss as helicoptering, but it's harder to let my kids stretch and grow when high school grades are on the line. We are currentl It's easy to like a book that goes along nicely with what you already think, and The Gift of Failure fit the bill for me. The idea that parents protecting their children from failure is actually a disservice in the long run resonated with me. We've seen the 5th grade science fair projects that were hatched and completed by parents and that type of hovering is easy to dismiss as helicoptering, but it's harder to let my kids stretch and grow when high school grades are on the line. We are currently struggling with letting our sophomore take honors level courses and earning Bs with the understanding that it's better to have a growth mindset and to take harder classes and not do quite as well as if she had taken easier classes. But when a B in an honors class brings her GPA down (affecting scholarships and college admissions) it's harder to stand by your convictions. This book helped me recognize that in our family, we choose to do hard things even when the results might not be what we hope for. Now, if only we can get Admissions officers and scholarship committees to agree.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    I wish I would have read this book ten years ago. One of the best books for parents to stop and think about how we are raising our children so that they are successful as adults.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kandice

    Loved it! A must read for parents and educators.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kim Fullton

    Game changer. Must not leave these ideas on the shelf.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    Yeah, I'm not convinced. I'm surprised how highly this book is rated. But, I guess it does give a lot of parenting advice so it could be seen as valuable that way. I'd say half of this book is on helping your child be okay with failure, the other half is just a teacher giving clear, thought-out advice about parenting, particularly as it concerns school. The problem I have with the whole failure-is-good argument is that it doesn't cover all the consequences of parenting that way. It is a very hea Yeah, I'm not convinced. I'm surprised how highly this book is rated. But, I guess it does give a lot of parenting advice so it could be seen as valuable that way. I'd say half of this book is on helping your child be okay with failure, the other half is just a teacher giving clear, thought-out advice about parenting, particularly as it concerns school. The problem I have with the whole failure-is-good argument is that it doesn't cover all the consequences of parenting that way. It is a very heavy theory book, when it comes to failing, and a very practical book when it comes to parenting with school. The theory falls short because in essence what Lahey presents is that if you allow your child to struggle then sooner or later the child will step up and take charge. Every once and a while she would mix in, don't abandon them and make sure you can help them along the way, but for the most part she gives example after example of, "Stop doing everything for them and this is why that's unhealthy!" So, it sounds really good, because every parent wants to stop doing everything for their kid, but she doesn't flesh out the how very well. I felt like if I followed her advice I would turn into one of those parents that never says no to their kid, letting them trash their life, their grades, and their future. The funny thing is this isn't one of those don't say no parents for the sake of saving them from added negativity, but it ends up having the same effect. She never explains when parents should be stepping in, she simply states in a variety of different areas of life how parents step in too much. And, while I like the idea, I just don't buy the premise that simply doing that will solve (nearly every) problems kids confront. There's definitely room for parents to back off. And she does great explaining the importance of autonomy, competency, and communication to equip kids to do it. But, again, I found the argument lacking. Additionally, like I said before, the rest of the book is just her explaining how her experience as a teacher warrants her authority to spout of advice on how to do school right with kids and teachers. Fine advice, but not a lot about 'giving the gift of failure' to be seen. Lastly, I think a much more helpful book to get the gist and practical application that Lahey is trying to convey is, ironically, the most citied book in this work. Carol Dweck's Growth Mindset is used throughout to explain Lahey's theory and I think Dweck does a much more effective job explaining because it teaches failing not for the sake of learning, but failing is simply just a part of having a growth mindset. If anything, this book is trying to niche-market a small aspect of Carol Dweck's growth mindset theory. Why not just go to the source? To be fair, one aspect that Lahey emphasized quite well is the idea of being intrinsically motivated rather than extrinsically. I don't know if I agree with her idea that by letting them fail they will gain that intrinsic motivation; nor will they gain it in anytime that would be helpful to the child (Lahey hints it may be decades before they learn certain lessons). But, it's an important idea that I think could be developed more.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I don’t agree with all of the approaches in this book but it’s still worth reading because the overall point about trusting our kids and allowing them to make mistakes and learn is really good.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Deirdre

    One of the best books I have read on parenting and teaching which was recommended by a colleague who was a former principal/now guidance counselor. I strongly recommend parents, teachers and coaches read this book! Lahey shares a variety of trends observed by teachers like herself (from N.H) where the wave of overparenting has resulted in students who are inflexible thinkers that memorize and regurgitate information they are unable to manipulate in innovative ways. Worse, there is a rise in stud One of the best books I have read on parenting and teaching which was recommended by a colleague who was a former principal/now guidance counselor. I strongly recommend parents, teachers and coaches read this book! Lahey shares a variety of trends observed by teachers like herself (from N.H) where the wave of overparenting has resulted in students who are inflexible thinkers that memorize and regurgitate information they are unable to manipulate in innovative ways. Worse, there is a rise in student's inability to cope when meeting adversity and challenge. A parent's job is to protect a child and certainly no one wants to see their child fail, but Lahey highlights moments from different stages of childhood how by hovering and controlling a child they are not learning necessary valuable skills: "The sort of dependence created by rescuing and overparenting may feel like connectedness, but it communicates our lack of faith in the child and it undermines healthy connectedness by emphasizing control rather than love and support." Listening to a child's interests and goals (even if they differ from your goal for your child), respecting them and trusting their ability to work thing out is vital to raising a healthy and independent child. And children love feeling self-reliant! For many parents, this letting-go of control and seeing their child become self-sufficient can be difficult. Lahey also addresses as a parent herself how sometimes the desire to simplify things for the child and do all that can be done can also be motivated by the self-esteem rush of "being the best parent" instead of creating a learning moment where the child might be frustrated and have consequences to for instance, a forgotten homework assignment left at home. Sometimes even on little things the desire to feel needed as a parent and be helpful to a child actually is not as helpful as you would think. A child needs to forge their own path (not any of ours teachers/parents). Like Lahey, I also teach middle school aged students (and high school) I found the chapters addressing typical behaviors of children now often overlabeled as "executive functioning deficits," especially interesting. (I agree with her assessment: boys are delayed in developing these skills! So be patient!) As a teacher and a parent, Lahey balances between strategies for educators and parents to use to help give a child guidance without overstepping. "Pressured Parents Phenomenon" is something teachers and coaches are seeing throughout the U.S. Lahey calls on parents to "do what is right and good in the final tally and not for what feels right and good in the moment" assuring "the best moment is when a kid masters a skill through his/her own self-directed efforts, ...a buzz that can last for years if it's nurtured." The nurturing part IS a team effort. One of my favorite quotes and an attitude embraced by my family early is Samuel Beckett's: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail Again. Fail Better." This book stands apart from others on this topic in presenting strategies for creating positive home-school relationships by embracing opportunities to fail and learning how to learn from failure. Lahey's "Gift of Failure" reminds readers of the rewards reaped from learning how to accept challenges and struggle and learn from them.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Abe

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The gift of failure is an amazing and very relatable as some of my classmates have mentioned before. The book talks about the hardships of parenting and how there must be some sort of communication between the parent and son/daughter. Parents are always worried about their kids and it's understandable but sometimes it can lead children not to learn from failure. Failure has always been seen as a terrible thing and that in life you can only succeed. An example of that is how parents are always te The gift of failure is an amazing and very relatable as some of my classmates have mentioned before. The book talks about the hardships of parenting and how there must be some sort of communication between the parent and son/daughter. Parents are always worried about their kids and it's understandable but sometimes it can lead children not to learn from failure. Failure has always been seen as a terrible thing and that in life you can only succeed. An example of that is how parents are always telling their kids that they must receive only high grades and no low grades will be tolerated. Another cool thing that was mentioned in the book is that kids are just a bunch of numbers and grades to their parents and that parents don't care about anything but those two things. This book stressed the fact the failure should be allowed because we learn more from our failures than when we succeed. Another Topic that was discussed was how competitive our society and world has become. Kids nowadays are learning topic that were learned in middle school in second grade. Everything is going by too fast that they aren't giving the kids enough time to just have fun. It's Like when you want to play but you must study because life has become too competitive from a young age. The best part of the book was when they talked about balancing school, sports and other activities. This topic is not addressed as much as it should be but the book did a good job of talking about it. It talked about how can we be good at our sports while maintaining our grades and doing other extracurricular activities. Now some people do 3 sports during school and clubs but they must maintain high grades because of colleges. From a young age, we are told by our parents or caregivers that we must be very involved to get accepted to a college. That our grades alone won't get us very far so we must excel at a sport or some club. Now sports take at least 15 hrs of practices week without competitions which can be hard to do while maintaining high grades.Overall the book does a great job of explaining how kids and parents can learn to communicate in a way where there is no pressure. It also touched on a lot more topics that don't get discussed often because people don't want to admit to them.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    This book was a good wake-up call that I'm not doing my kids any good when I swoop in and rescue them when things get hard. They need to learn to do the hard stuff and sometimes, OK, most of the time they are going to fail. But failure is not a bad thing. It is through this failure that they learn how to do better the next time. The ideas in this book are great, but for me, they are so hard to do. It is hard to see my kids upset, or to struggle with something, or to not get time to relax because This book was a good wake-up call that I'm not doing my kids any good when I swoop in and rescue them when things get hard. They need to learn to do the hard stuff and sometimes, OK, most of the time they are going to fail. But failure is not a bad thing. It is through this failure that they learn how to do better the next time. The ideas in this book are great, but for me, they are so hard to do. It is hard to see my kids upset, or to struggle with something, or to not get time to relax because they didn't use their time wisely. Or especially those times when I am stressed or in a hurry and it would be SO MUCH easier to just do it myself.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Erika

    I honestly believe every teacher and parent on the planet should read this book. Whether your child is three or 23, whether you teach preschool or college, each and every chapter and anecdote rang true in my bones! I have already started radically changing chores/homework/perceptions around our house and my own attitude about many, many things. If you need advice on homework, sports, recess problems, grades, or college applications; it's in here!!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Egan

    Loved the book from the very beginning. Loved all the practical advise and reflections that Jessica gives. I am totally convinced that failure really makes our kids resilient and helps prepare them for real life in order to enjoy instead of endure it. All parents who want to start off well the formation of their kids should have this book close at hand. Teachers also.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Darin Mirante

    An essential practical guide for all teachers and all parents of school-age children. Themes of autonomy as the goal in development, ideal teacher-parent partnership, and the goal of long-term success even if it comes at the expense of short-term success.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    There were a lot of really good actionable tips in this book for ways to help your children take ownership of their own lives. I enjoyed the content and am looking forward to implementing some of the tips as my child gets to school age.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Juliana

    Good advice here on letting go. Of course, I've never been accused of being a Tiger Mom. I'm not even a Soccer Mom. I'm more of a--let-me-surround-you-with-books-and-you-figure-it-out mom. But there were some good common sense tips herein.

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