Why You Should Reposition Failure to Boost Your Daughter’s Esteem and Help Her Start Anew

Failure is a scary word – especially to a pre-teen girl. And no one wants to see their daughter bring home a bad grade or come home upset because she is being bullied or excluded from her group of friends. Failure can be intensely painful and even bring up a parent’s old baggage from the past, too. So, why do we need to talk about it? Why can’t we just avoid it at all costs?


Part of growing up is learning how to do things, how to react, and how to get a little more comfortable with trying new experiences. I’d venture to guess that none of us rode a bike on the first try. We may have had “failures” but after we worked at it, one day it just “clicked.” When girls are growing up, they do not have the nuanced notion that failure isn’t permanent and isn’t always a bad thing. (Ask any entrepreneur how they feel about failure! They see it as opportunity.) This is why we need to recast our experiences with failure so our girls do not see it as the “end of the world.” They do not have the same perspective that an adult has, which is why it’s so powerful to have authentic mentors that girls can relate to and can help them reframe their experiences in a more positive light.


That grade your daughter brought home from school doesn’t mean she isn’t “smart.” It means she may need to study/relearn material in a different way or maybe there was something else going on at school that day. Changing the story and turning that failure into success with some elbow grease will give her more control. Failure is your daughter’s opportunity to grow. If she didn’t clean her room like you asked and her privileges got taken away, did she “fail” or did she really learn? She may see it as failing – but you can help her see it in a different way: “You tried not doing your chores and it didn’t work. Try it again in a different way and see what happens.”


The closer girls are to puberty the more challenges they face. The sooner we help them see the opportunity in failure, the more resilient they will be when things don’t go their way.

Felicia Gonzalez