Fear of Failure

All my life, I have struggled with fear of failure. I hate failing, or feeling like I've failed. All through my adolescence (and admittedly, even now), if I wasn't instantly good at something, I would give up. The only exception that I can think of is in the marriage & parenting realms, where there's just no way to be instantly good and no option to give up.

I recognize this flaw in myself and I do (honestly) try to work on it.

Unfortunately, I'm now seeing the fruit of this shortcoming in my daughter, Israel. The most obvious instance right now is that she is afraid to color in her coloring books because she is scared of going out of the lines. If I encourage her to the point of trying, she'll give it one shot, and if her three-year-old hands betray her and that crayon ends up outside of the lines, she will instantly stop and declare that she "just can't do it."

She loves to paint, because in painting she gets a blank sheet of paper with no lines and nothing to restrict her. But coloring books are a whole different ball game. It's sad to me, because I know she has picked this up from me. I also know how much she admires other people's coloring skill and wants so badly to do it well. I explain to her all the time that just like anything else in life, coloring takes practice, and if we never try, we'll never get good at it.

I remember LOVING to color when I was little. But Amber & Micah (my older sister and brother) wouldn't let me color in their coloring books because I didn't stay in the lines well enough. I remember practicing and practicing until one day, on a road trip to Tennessee one winter, Micah allowed me to color in his dinosaur book. Even in the car, I stayed perfectly in the lines, and Micah praised me profusely. Funny memory, right?

I'm not quite sure what to do about Rae's fear of failure. I'd love to help her nip it in the bud before it develops into a hard-to-break character trait as it has in my life. I'm open to any suggestions, and would ask for prayer, too. That's what I've been doing for her in the time being.

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?


jerarbw said...

Emma faced this too, her being a bit of a perfectionist. We just continued to encourage her and to let her know that it's ok to color outside the lines.

Micah said...

Good question. Maybe you could be coloring with her and go outside the lines. Make sure she sees that you did and then just say "oh well, I am going to keep coloring and keep trying to stay in the lines". Seems simple but if she knows that you "fail" and continue on then she will pick that up. I don't think that that is the real issue (fear of failing) for her though. With Zach it is just still tough for him to stay in the lines and Malachi can, so rather then go slow and work at it he just says its too hard. I face it as a patience/laziness training time not that he is scared of "failing". We also constantly let him know that "as he gets bigger he will get better and better at coloring, or whatever". I have recently (within the last 5 months) been looking all over for books on how to teach patience in kids because Missy and I are really impatient. I found one called "teaching kids patience without loosing yours" but it was kinda flaky and weak and only really got to some meat in one chapter. I think that that is an important character trait to pass on. Maybe the only way to pass that though is to have patience and they will learn it from you. I know the reason why I am impatient is because I learned it from dad. I want the boys (and anna) to love to be in the garage or yard or woods or wherever with me and not worry they are slowing me down and making me angry. It may take 3 times as long and be half the quality of job as I could do by myself but that is not the point. Raising patient kids will be the fruit of having taken the time. Plus later we can work on the quality and speed. So anyway, there are my thoughts. Love you, Micah

Missy said...

Good thoughts, my hubby! Audra, I will be praying for you. And my experience with Malachi is this: As we have been doing "workbook time" every day for 30 minutes, he has to practice coloring. At first he liked it, then he got tired of it. He wanted to stay in the lines, but he wanted more to make a perfect picture in 10 seconds flat! With him, it was patience and practice and not laziness (like Zach).

I started taking the approach of strength with him, which might hit his heart more than Rae's, cause he's a boy. But he would complain that his "arm hurt when he tried to stay in the lines". A legitimate complaint, but he used it to be lazy and just color wherever. So I would tell him, he's just getting strong arm muscles, and that the more he colored the stronger his arm would be! He liked that! With feeling his arm periodically on how strong it was getting, and with me just being purely insistent on "this is part of workbook time", he has become a great colorer. His arm doesn't hurt him anymore and he notices that! So we talk about how he practiced and practiced, and he now has strong muscles and LOOK! his pictures are getting better and better too!

Hope that helps. I'll pray you figure out the female version of this story to apply to sweet Rae!

Susan said...

So,let me start with...I am someone who prefers to draw my own squiggles and then color them. I think it may have something to do with personality type and not necessarily a lack of motivation. I take a crayon or colored pencil and just randomly make continuous doodles all over a blank page and then I choose any color I want to fill in those squiggly doodles. I am not trying to color within someone elses lines, but enjoying my own creativity. Makes me want to get out my crayons and go to town.
Perhaps we should plan a coloring date and I can show your kids my stuff :)