All faces of fear of failure

Your child refuses to participate in a school soccer match. When everyone is playing with the neighbor's rabbit, he puts his hands in his pocket and swears that he does not like animals. He doesn't feel like going to a ski camp. He's never been bowling, and he doesn't want to go there - it's a stupid game. What this is about?

Fear of failure can make one big minefield all over the world - everything can go wrong. What if during the match I slip on the grass, give the ball wrong, my team gets angry at me? What if the rabbit bites me? Maybe, I don't have skiing talent like my mother and I just disappoint her? This type of anxiety can effectively discourage your child from trying new things, enjoying the fun and company of friends. It's worth knowing how to deal with it.


Recognize fear of failure

A child who experiences fear of failure wants to be seen as resourceful and brave. Rather, he will not tell us that he simulated a stomachache before Kasia's from IVa birthday party, so as not to participate in games where he could fail. What child behaviors should arouse the parent's vigilance? Repetitive refusals to participate in activities with peers or older children (he is happy to play with toddlers, because their games are so easy that they always come out victorious), reluctance to play with people whom he cares about , perfectionism, frequent abdominal pain and other somatic symptoms before important events (school performance, first trip to the ice rink). It should also be alarming to take up activities only in a very limited group (e.g. with mom, one friend) and to give up challenges posed, e.g. at school, using words like "It's too easy for me", "It's boring", "I don't like it today wants".


Break the vicious circle

A child who is afraid will try to move as far as possible from the source of his fear - as soon as possible and for the longest time. He can pretend indisposition not to go to the pool with his friends because he swims poorly and is afraid of being compromised. He can also postpone studying to the class and open the textbook only on the day preceding the test. Laziness has nothing to do with it - simply not taking actions associated with anxiety temporarily helps you deal with it. However, this is not a favorable strategy - if it is not noticed and corrected at an early stage, it can become a well-established pattern of action that will be difficult to change. How can you help your child? Encourage them to confront difficult situations - first in a safe environment and with support - parents, siblings, friends. It is worth showing that problems should be solved immediately, without undue delay, it will help to avoid the build-up of tension to a level that the child will find difficult to bear.


Bet on commitment

A child who experiences the fear of failure focuses on the effect of his actions - he only sees the final. A change of perspective can be very useful. If a child participates in a school long jump competition, all he sees is that he achieved last position. How to make him think that he will spend a lot of time with his friends, be able to put on a new sports outfit, while waiting for his turn may make some interesting acquaintances? Instead of praising the effect, praise for commitment. Note that the kid sat down to the lesson, not that he did everything flawlessly. Toddler smeared the whole kitchen with jam preparing a sandwich. Before cleaning, let him hear a kind word about his independence. If this is not enough for him to look differently at his failures, think about whether he had the opportunity to see how others deal with failures. Perhaps in his opinion, he is surrounded by ideal people, who mishaps never happen? It is worth showing your child that failures happen to everyone - it is important to be able to rise after them.

Learning to deal with failures is not only about improving the quality of life of the child - both in the context of school learning, as well as social contacts and emotional maturity. This is a very important resource that will pay off in the future when a teenager, and later a young adult, begins an independent life. So, let's take your hands out of your pocket now and pet the rabbit.



Shaw, M. (1999). Dziecięce lęki: o wychowaniu dziecka w świecie, który napawa je lękiem. Poznań: Wydawnictwo Moderski i S-ka.


Help your child deal with stress

Nowadays, more and more often we can hear about the harmful effects of stress on human health. The fight against this invisible perpetrator of tension begins on the day of birth and accompanies us throughout our lives. It is most visible when the child starts learning. Suddenly, he faces new tasks, he is increasingly subjected to an assessment of his own actions, new social relationships appear in which the child wants to be seen in a positive light. All this can cause a strong emotional tension. How children learn to minimize the effects of stress affects their entire lives. The purpose of this text is to show parents what stress is and how to help a child relieve tension caused by various situations.


In general, stress means an adaptive relationship between human capabilities and the demands of the environment. The above definition shows that the environment is full of various stressors affecting individuals.

In psychology, three forms of stress response are distinguished: eustress, distress, and neustress. The first form, or eustress, turns out to be mobilizing. What does this mean in practice? Tension caused by various stimuli - e.g. stress before the test provokes the mobilization of the body to reduce this tension. Ultimately, in our example, it forces us to learn. However, when the state of tension persists for a very long time and exceeds the individual threshold of stress resistance, we will talk about the adverse effects of distress. It appears when a student has several tests at one time, and a lot of other duties arising from extra-curricular activities. It is highly probable that he will feel tension causing slow exhaustion of the body's mobilization capacity. How can it manifest itself? First of all, the person is becoming more and more nervous, more and more often he is unable to cope with the current situation, there are problems with concentration, and there is also a decrease in motivation. In extreme situations, if you do not try to reduce the intensity of stress, you may develop neurotic or mood disorders.


As mentioned in the introduction, the fact, how a child learns to cope with stress will have a huge impact on its later functioning. A good example would be people who had the so-called "too high bar" - they can develop a tendency to avoid stress responses. In adult life, they can also avoid difficult situations for fear of failure. In extreme cases, anxiety disorders may develop, e.g. social phobia.

It is therefore worth considering whether our children have too many responsibilities. Sometimes, they want to attend as many classes as possible, without realizing that it will be difficult to cope with the excess of duties. What can a parent do in such a situation? First of all, talk to your child and realize that if he feels that he can't cope with all the activities, he can give up at any time. Children are often ashamed to admit to their parents that they will not cope with the challenge because they want to impress them. An important element in raising children is the right way to motivate to act. Choosing words on the principle of "you have to manage", "you are not stupid than others", "do it for parents" etc. is inappropriate and causes the child to feel guilty at the time of failure.

To reduce tension when your child faces a difficult challenge, explain to him that fear is normal. You can give examples of situations in which you feel tension. Remember to explain to your child that if he fails, nothing will really happen! Let them draw conclusions in this situation and treat it as a lesson for the future.

In this way, we protect the child against reduced well-being and give the opportunity to self-assess in a rational way, without the so-called cognitive distortions caused by a specific situation.


In everyday life, it is worth introducing various forms of stress relief from an early age. A helpful idea might be to offer your child a common time to spend on rest from their daily duties. It is worth considering going out to the pool, relaxing training, playing outside, breathing exercises etc. In fact, any method that allows you to break away from the daily routine will have a mutual, positive aspect. Both the parent and child then have the opportunity to relax and also strengthen their mutual emotional bond.



Reykowski J., Funkcjonowanie osobowości w warunkach stresu psychologicznego, PWN, Warszawa 1966.

Wrześniewski K., Psychologiczne uwarunkowania powstawania i rozwoju chorób somatycznych [w:] Strelau J., (red.), Psychologia. Podręcznik akademicki, t. 3, GWP, Gdańsk 2005.