Accepting Failure

Failure is the Stepping Stone to Success.

A quote we have been listening to ever since we were kids. A quote we have all been made to learn by heart. But I doubt if many of us were taught what it truly meant. It means…

…if a person fails once, he should not lose heart. He must observe the mistakes that led to the failure and try to overcome them in his next attempt. Repeated efforts lead to one to success. Life is a long journey and in the course of life and career, one has to face many ups and downs. One can meet several troubles and obstacles on the way of life but should not be disheartened on these situations. Sometimes one gets a success and sometimes failure. Failures give a better point of view through which we can march our way onto success. So we should always regard failure as the first step or stepping stone to success.

Yesterday, we heard about the untimely demise of the son of one of our long time acquaintances. A suicide. The boy was 20-21 years old and had been under treatment for severe depression for the past five-six years. Mom has taught him when he was in school and recalls that he was always alone and never had any friends. She wanted me to accompany her to his house. But I could not gather enough courage to face the parents, so I refused. It must be so hard for them to accept child loss. I haven’t seen him for years now and yet it shook me up. He had left a suicide note which claimed that no one was responsible for his death and that he had lot of problems which he was unable to tackle. He also requested to donate all his organs.

I have been reading about and witnessing lot of cases of depression in young children and teens and it pains to see them suffer. If we delve deep who are we to blame for this? I believe it is all of us. The parents. The teachers. The society. We have stopped lending a helping hand to those in need. We have stopped being empathetic to people who suffer. We have stopped being kind and compassionate. Instead we have started to ostracize them as if they are infected by a deadly communicable disease. And I believe this exclusion, this feeling of being banished or left alone is what provokes them to take such extreme steps.

Depression is not something that affects only adults. Increasingly more and more children and teenagers are becoming victims of depression. 

Primary reasons for depression in children are:

  • Highly competitive atmosphere
  • Worry of peer acceptance
  • Bullying at school or college
  • Poor grades or failure in examinations
  • Abusive atmosphere at home
  • And most importantly the inability to accept failure or defeat

Childhood is supposed to be the happiest phase of life. But is it so? Do children have enough freedom? Do they have a worry-free atmosphere? Are they not subjected to teasing or bullying? Childhood is great, but it is certainly not worry-free! We all had our share of fights with friends, our share of sadness and shed tears more often than we can remember. No one, no matter how old or how successful, is immune to sadness. Everybody hurts. Everyone is susceptible to depression.

Most of us believe that children have nothing to worry about and keep giving them advice on how they must have an aim in life or how they must focus on their life ahead. What we do not accept is that the child may already have his/her share of burdens to tackle with. And it is sad considering how much we can help them as parents to be happy.

We have forgotten to teach them to enjoy a moment for what it is. We have forgotten to teach them to be thankful for the little joys in life. We have forgotten to showcase an atmosphere of love, kindness and compassion. Instead we help them in adding on to their already brimming basket of worries.

If a child fails or gets a poor grade, as a parent do show your displeasure. But also tell them that it’s alright to fail sometimes and they must accept it as a challenge to do better the very next time. Also, accept a child for what they are. Not every child is the same. Nor are their abilities to tackle problems however big or small. Don’t expect them to change overnight for the sake of your high ambitions and aspirations. Not everyone can be a Bill Gates, or a Sania Mirza, or a Sachin Tendulkar, or an Arundhati Roy. Be empathetic. If you scold, they must be aware that you do it out of love. Never leave the room or the child without sorting out or making up. This is applicable to all individuals. Differences are bound to be there between any two individuals. But for a healthy relationship, you ought to accept the differences and move on instead of brooding over it.

Studies show a steep increase in such cases of childhood depression in the last decade. A lot can be attributed to the lonely lifestyle contributed by nuclear families that opt to have a single child, lack of friends to confide in as parents out of scare do not let the child mingle with children in the neighbourhood and the pressure of studies owing to a highly competitive corporate culture.

Any unexplained change in your child’s behavior must be looked into. These could include mood swings, anger or temper tantrums, lack of sleep, continued sadness, loss of appetite, loss of interest in friends and activities etc. Your presence, your words, your support might help the child get through with it. Some simple steps that we as parents can do:

  1. Communication is the key. Talk to your child whenever possible. Be their friend.
  2. Provide them comfort. They must feel comfortable coming to you with their problems.
  3. Gain their trust so that they confide in you.
  4. Discipline, but don’t scare. You don’t need to shout to make a child know the difference between right and wrong, acceptable and unacceptable. Give logical reasons. It helps better in understanding and many a times helps them think of an altogether different reason.
  5. Your presence. Laugh with them. Play with them. Learn with them. Spend as much quality time as you can with them.


Remember to teach them that to err is human. And there is no problem in this world that cannot be solved.

And if after all this you still feel that the child has a deeper problem that he/she is unable to discuss with you, take professional help. It’ll help the child if he/she knows that his discussions will be confidential. He/she may reveal the actual problem without much hesitation with the professional counsellor or psychiatrist. There is nothing wrong in consulting a psychiatrist. A psychiatrist is nobody but a certified doctor/specialist who will help you with an illness just like a physician helps you recover from fever.

Picture Source: Why Your Worst Doesn’t Define You


This is a beautiful quote I found the other day while going through this wonderful piece, Why Your Worst Doesn’t Define You? Do read it.

Linking this post to 1000 Speak for Compassion – July Subject – Acceptance.

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17 Replies to “Accepting Failure”

  1. A well researched article Rekha on an issue which is increasingly affecting more and more folks young and old.

    In fact it’s a great read and learning too.

    Thank you and best wishes 😀

  2. Rightly said, Rekha! Sadly we see such instances where kids are drove into depression state by their own parents in the name of competition and later the same parents cry about it. What’s not acceptable is even the educated folks doing the same with their kids, all in the name of securing a better life!

  3. It has become so tough for kids these days…I have grown up in a nuclear family but the difference was perhaps that mom was always there when we got back home…But that’s not possible these days and one can’t blame the parents for it..

    I have noticed some issues of children these days..I wonder when things changed so much..Peer pressure was definitely there when I was a kid, even in college but I never felt susceptible to it and nor did my sister or friends ..atleast not as much as today.. Bullying has become such a big issue these days and I’m also appalled at how unapologetic children are these days boasting and gloating… Somewhere sensitivity is lost and I don’t blame them either..It’s how society has become..And that’s when a few individuals suffer, they loose out on living a life they deserve to…

  4. I read your post on Facebook and I wondered about whom you had written. It is truly sad and tragic that he decided to do what he did. Agree with you, in our society, failure is a big taboo. It is just not accepted. The pressure to perform on the kids is unimaginable.
    And regarding seeking professional help, well, that’s another stigma. I dont know when we do not hesitate to see a doc for any illness or pain of any part of the body, why we are reluctant to seek advise and help for the pain of the mind?

  5. So well written, Rekha! The thing is that kids aren’t allowed to want for anything too and the word NO is rarely used, or over used. All these things have a way to insidiously working towards lowering the threshold of their tolerance to failure. Sad but true aspect of life!

  6. It breaks my heart when I read about children committing suicide for issues that seem trivial. Is it because the parents are not available? Is it because they are not equipped to handle even the smallest setback? Is it because they find it hard to cope? The strange thing is that the curriculum is easier compared to our times. But there are so many things to do, so many other kids to compare with and so many societal pressures to not only excel at studies but be an all-rounder genius. I fervently hope that the society comes together to protect and nurture our children. Lovely post.

  7. This is just so heartbreaking that even after mass suicides that occur after the announcement of every major exam result, people have not stepped up and parents and teachers haven’t understood and empathized about the amount of pressure children go through nowadays! Kids need to be encouraged to enjoy their childhood; not dread each day!

  8. Well written article. Having attended a lot of Suicide cases whilst in Navy, I always felt why people take this final step?? If they have the courage to hang themselves or have poison why not have the courage to face the “Problems”..But when it happened with my own cousin last year I understood the people around the individual also are equally responsible for, I felt myself also responsible for his act…2-3 times I tried to contact him in the last few months of his life, he was not the usual self and did not respond to me properly and which I took for his busy work schedule.. If I had got him into a conversation may be, may be..

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