Children Avoiding Failure at All Costs-How Do We Help Them?

Children avoiding failure at all costs-How do we help them?

Our lives do not consist of one long string of successes, nor is there room in them for only failures. We need one and the other for proper psychological development. As adults, we understand that balance is needed in life. Do we behave the same with regard to our children?

From the moment, I started work with children and young people as a coach, I noticed one thing: they are too pampered and protected against all types of failure!

My question is: Should we allow our youngsters to experience the unpleasant moments of life associated with failure in school, sports, etc.? Or conversely should we focus their attention exclusively on seeking success, often attempting to create them and their world as something perfect?

The answer to these questions doesn’t seem to be simple. A child is a human with a very sensitive nature and personality, which is constantly developing.
Today, in the era of the Internet and easily accessible information, children quickly learn that rivalry in every field is the order of the day. That’s why wherever you are (school or sports club) if you lose, the others and often you yourselves will be convinced you are of little worth. This attitude generates a huge dose of psychological, especially negative emotions. Fear of failure, or experiencing it often results in a lack of self-confidence. This, in turn, leads to avoidance of failure.

So How Can We Help?

Overall, children need to taste both success and failure. This has a positive effect not only on their development in sports but also their psychological and mental development. It also shapes a properly balanced personality. Step-by-step, workout-after-work out, I tried the following methods to help the children. It wasn’t at all a question of them experiencing as many defeats as possible. I simply wanted them to stop fearing and avoiding them.


The principle of here and now – the idea is that the child should concentrate on the present and not the past. This principle must be presented to a young player and then put into practice in training sessions and matches. The principle applies to two important points: time and space.
Put simply, the child’s thoughts may be in the past and so he may do the same as previously (avoiding defeat). Instead, he should concentrate on what is here and now (the present). The past was infused with the following thoughts: ‘What will I say if I lose, or what will my parents or friends say’ or ‘What will happen if I don’t score any goal’.
My aim was to psychologically prepare the child for what is happening here and now. In other words, ‘Focus on what you’re doing now and on nothing else’. For example, you can give the child a task (or you can prepare a task jointly with it) of this type: ‘My concentration will be centred on the decision – when to pass and when to dribble the ball’. Such an approach allows the child to forget or completely cut off all thoughts of the past or what someone will think of him/her in the event of failure. The idea is that the child should understand that he cannot control the past. But he/she can focus 100% on the present and control what is important here and now.


Mistakes are an integral part of success and failure – the point is that a child shouldn’t concentrate exclusively on its mistakes, but learn from them and draw the right conclusions. Here I used a simple method: usually, when a child made a mistake, he/she was very angry and bitter, dwelling on what had happened for a long time. This led to reduced self-confidence and increased nervousness. That’s why instead of focusing on faults and saying to himself/herself, “Oh no, I lost the ball again,” I asked him/her to use only positive communication when talking to himself/herself and to say: “I must try to make better decisions next time.” In other words, negative communication to himself/herself was replaced by positive thinking.


Gradually prepare and change training sessions, so that the child experiences and understands that failure is part of the game, as in everyday life – the point is for the child to learn outside of their psychological comfort zone. It must start to take risks, even if that means a temporary failure. It must begin to trust and believe in itself, and step-by-step overcome the psychological barriers that interfere with normal development. You can try to achieve this by the following method:

a) Customize the lessons to individual needs through a variety of set tasks: easier and more difficult.

b) Split teams up to make them more evenly matched, where the degree of defeat and success will be at the same level.

c)If we are conducting classes in pairs or small groups, leave the players the right to choose with whom they wish to compete, and only