Modern parenting is defined by an unprecedented level of overprotectiveness: parents now rush to school to deliver forgotten assignments, challenge teachers on report card disappointments, mastermind children’s friendships, and interfere on the playing field. As teacher, journalist, and parent 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.
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Everywhere she turned, Lahey saw an obvious and startling fear of failure—in both her students and in her own children. This fear has the potential to undermine children’s autonomy, competence, motivation, and their relationships with the adults in their lives. Providing a clear path toward solutions, Lahey lays out a blueprint with targeted advice for handling homework, report cards, social dynamics, and sports. Most important, she sets forth a plan to help parents learn to step back and embrace their children’s setbacks along with their successes.
Empathetic and wise, The Gift of Failure is essential reading for parents, educators, and psychologists nationwide who want to help children thrive—and grow into independent, confident adults.
“It’s hard to overstate the importance of this book. The Gift of Failure is beautifully written and deeply researched. But most of all it’s the one book we all need to read if we want to instill the next generation with confidence and joy.”—Susan Cain, author of Quiet
“Instead of lecturing us about what we’re doing wrong, Jessica Lahey reveals what she did wrong with her own children and students—and how she systematically reformed her ways. A refreshing, practical book for parents who want to raise resilient kids but aren’t sure how to start.”—Amanda Ripley, author of The Smartest Kids in the World
“Lahey offers one of the most important parenting messages of our times: unless we allow our children to learn how to take on challenges, they won’t thrive in school and in life. Her extremely helpful book tells her story, compiles research, and provides hundreds of doable suggestions.”—Ellen Galinsky, author of Mind in the Making
“This fascinating, thought-provoking book shows that to help children succeed, we must allow them to fail. Essential reading for parents, teachers, coaches, psychologists, and anyone else who wants to guide children toward lives of independence, creativity, and courage.”—Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project
“How can we help our children grow to be resourceful, happy adults? Lahey shows in practical terms how to know what your child is ready for and how to offer support even as you encourage autonomy. A wise, engaging book steeped in scientific research and tempered with common sense.”—Daniel T. Willingham, PhD, author of Why Don’t Students Like School?
“Through an artful combination of anecdote and research, Lahey delivers a lesson that moms and dads badly need to learn: that failure is vital to children’s success. Any parent who pines for a saner, more informed approach to childrearing should read this book.”—Jennifer Senior, author of All Joy and No Fun