Engaging views and analysis from outside contributors on the issues affecting society and faith today.

CP VOICES do not necessarily reflect the views of The Christian Post. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s).

Failing forward and finding faith in resilience

Getty Images
Getty Images

Resiliency is a popular word in parenting circles.

Have you ever seen the hilarious tweets tagged with the hashtag #ReasonsMyKidIsCrying? Parents share things like “She says her ice cream is too cold” and “I won’t let him play in the toilet.” While these posts are always good for a laugh, I can’t help but recognize the need to equip parents and kids with emotional intelligence, or EQ.

EQ is being able to identify, evaluate, control, and express our emotions — especially key for our young people! Like reading, writing, and math, teaching kids how to identify emotions as temporary and recognize how feelings affect them is a powerful tool.

Get Our Latest News for FREE

Subscribe to get daily/weekly email with the top stories (plus special offers!) from The Christian Post. Be the first to know.

Resiliency is overcoming difficulty, but not at the cost of ignoring or downplaying it. Resiliency isn’t a 100% success rate, it’s knowing that in failure, future success is still possible. We call this failing forward or being “free to fail.”

We know girls can feel chained by the expectation of perfection. We also see that kids today are driven by a need to achieve. For so many girls, the fear of failure is what keeps them from trying in the first place. But when a girl’s natural curiosity for the world around her is fostered at home, church, her American Heritage Girls (AHG) Troop and school, she is more likely to courageously dive in and try new things without fear of failure.

We know that failure is an inevitable factor in life. So often parents are inclined to protect their children from failure at all costs. But as Dr. Tim Elmore of the Growing Leaders Ministry puts it, in protecting our children from all failure, we aren’t preparing them for life. It’s in making space for failure that we give them a framework for adulting in the real world.

By incorporating chances to take risks and try without fear of failure, girls are actually able to fail forward. A girl is left feeling capable and empowered, not because of what she accomplished, but because she knows that her accomplishments (or failures) don't define her — God does.

Replacing her fear of failure with a path forward

Failure. Not something that your girl likely embraces, or that she’s proud of. But what if failure was the exact catalyst she needed to achieve success in her life? What if you could teach her that failure is actually a good thing? What if failure was a way forward, not something holding her back?

Eradicate expectations of perfection

We know girls feel the pressure to be perfect. But Scripture tells us that all people fall short of God’s glorious standard — “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, NIV). Only He is holy and perfect. But God loves us, despite our imperfections — so He knows about our failures and promises to cleanse us and make us new when we lean on Him.

Emphasize God’s grace and redemption

Whether she misses the winning goal of the soccer game, plays a wrong note in the orchestra concert, or loses her temper yet again in your home, set her heart at ease by offering your girl gentle feedback through her failures and emphasizing the hope of improvement and change moving forward. God tells us in His Word that He is making all things new.

Encourage her growth mindset

Negative self-talk is proven to diminish mental well-being, including a worsening of mental health disorders like anxiety and depression. Rather than dwell in negativity in the midst of challenge or failure, a growth mindset allows opportunity to shine through the darkness. Affirm your girl in her effort, learning, and progress through failure. Encourage healthy self-talk and the Truths God speaks over her life — she has inherent worth, she is loved, and she is set apart because she is made in the image of God. If she gets stuck in patterns of negative self-talk, remind her of the words of 2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV: “... we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Establish the difference between acting recklessly and taking risks

Living without fear of failure means being willing to take risks. But does your girl know the difference between being a risk-taker and acting in a risky way? There is a difference between taking a risk, calculated and deliberate and being reckless, careless and random. Failing forward requires intentionality and awareness of risk-taking. Be a sounding board for her each step of the way to discern the difference between reckless living and goal-oriented risk-taking. The wisdom of your experience can guide her into growth rather than self-destruction.

Create an environment for trying and learning

Does your home feel like a safe space to try? Establishing an environment for experiential learning, through trial and error, starts with a few small shifts. Consider celebrating progress over perfection by vocally praising effort and process, not just results. Try offering feedback in a constructive manner that encourages her to find new ways to improve, rather than a simple critique that boxes her into fear of failure. Be vulnerable about your own life’s failures and share how failure wasn’t a sort of quicksand but a trampoline to the next thing God had in store.

Reinforce her reliance on God

Failing with trust in God intact is more life-giving than earthly success without Him. God’s plan for our lives is never void of His presence. Developing a reliance on the Lord requires cultivating daily spiritual, mental, and physical habits that prioritize His ways above our own. He is the vine, and we are the branches — without connection and reliance on Him as the source of life, your girl can do FOR nothing (John 15:5).

Rarely do we embark on new adventures where we’re destined to fail right away. After all, who really wants to set out to be terrible at something? But what if we can teach our girls that the reward doesn’t solely lie in our achievement, but in our effort? Through effort, failure, and eventually, success, our reward is both experience and achievement.

God designed humanity with a mind-body connection — when we labor, our brains are rewarded with serotonin and dopamine, the “happy hormones.” Behavioral Neuroscientists call this the “Effort Driven Reward Circuit.” Working with the body, specifically the hands, activates areas of the brain that control movement, emotions, and thought. Because of their physical interconnectedness inside the brain, the effort-driven rewards circuit is activated. The result? A biological path to building mental well-being and emotional resilience.

Patti Garibay is founder and executive director of American Heritage Girls, (AHG,, a national Christ-centered leadership and character development program. For nearly three decades, AHG has been at the forefront of countering the culture by leading girls and women to creating lives of integrity. Patti is the author of Why Curse the Darkness When You Can Light A Candle?, a story of trust and obedience to inspire those who desire to make Kingdom impact yet struggle with the fear of inadequacy.

Was this article helpful?

Help keep The Christian Post free for everyone.

By making a recurring donation or a one-time donation of any amount, you're helping to keep CP's articles free and accessible for everyone.

We’re sorry to hear that.

Hope you’ll give us another try and check out some other articles. Return to homepage.

Most Popular

More In Opinion