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.