One of the Galileo Innovator's mindsets is to be courageous. We define courage as being willing to share your creative thoughts, stretching yourself to try new things and embracing challenges. Failure is an essential part of innovation. As Elon Musk puts it, "if things are not failing, you're not innovating enough." But failing is a scary prospect for most kids—especially high achieving ones. They're afraid of "being bad" at something, or of getting the wrong answer.
So how can parents create an environment that gets kids comfortable with expressing themselves, trying new things and embracing failure as part of the process? Here are eight easy ideas:
- See your kids' potential: Some projects or activities might feel out of reach to your kids. Encourage them to embrace reasonable challenges, understanding that things might be a little bumpy at first. They'll likely realize they can do more than they think they can.
- Identify the long-term reward: Why learn to play piano, draw or do multiplication? Kids are often limited in their ability to see the long-term benefits of what's right in front of them. Help them create a vision.
- Put the risk in perspective: If your kids seem afraid of doing something, ask them, "What’s the worst thing that could happen?" Follow that with, "And if that happened, what would happen next?" Odds are, articulating the actual (probably minimal) risks will make them realize that they're not so scary after all.
- Create small victories: Help your kids break down big or intimidating projects into a series of small victories that help build their confidence one step at a time.
- Make time to try again: If possible, create time for your kids to make more than one version of a project—time to create, test and try again based on what they learned. When an initial failure leads to a future success, kids start to see failure as part of the process.
- Celebrate risk taking: When your kids try something new or challenging, applaud them for the courage they demonstrated, rather than the results. Set up a wall to recognize "epic fails" or "marvelous mistakes," where the whole family can post examples of mistakes they've made and learned from.
- Show them their progress: We can all forget how far we've come. Show your kids video of an early piano recital or soccer game. They'll be blown away by how much they've improved and be reminded that getting good at something takes time.
- Set a courageous example: Try new things in front of your kids. They think you're great at everything—show them that even grownups make mistakes.
Failure doesn't have to be scary or dispiriting. It can simply be an opportunity to learn something new and figure out how to do it better next time. Who knows what your kids will be able to create when they're free from the fear of getting it wrong?
- Glen Tripp is the founder and CEO of Galileo Innovation Camps for Kids