One of the things adults tell kids is to work hard in school and to get good grades. We tell kids to try their hardest to achieve all they can. But this is bad advice. Instead, we should encourage children to fail early in life so they have nowhere to go but up.
We all know of the guy who peaked in high school and went downhill from there. And we don’t want that to happen to us or our children. So why do we encourage kids to do well in school? Why do we tell them to get involved in extracurricular activities and aim for the sky? We should stop doing this. We are setting our kids up for a life of misery.
Let’s say your kid is a high-achiever in school. He gets good grades; makes the honor roll and maybe even the honor society. He’s into extracurricular activities as well: football, drama club, or whatever. Maybe he even volunteers his time. Maybe it’s to meet some sort of school requirement, or maybe it’s not. You praise him. His teachers praise him. Perhaps the press notices him. Colleges seek him out and he’s expected to go to the best one that sends him an acceptance letter.
The pressure certainly is on for him to succeed big time once he reaches adulthood. But what are the chances of that happening when compared with how much he’s achieved in high school?
Contrast that with a kid who is just an average student in school. Or maybe he’s even an underachiever. He only gets C’s in class. He avoids extracurricular activities and instead focuses on enjoying his childhood, and maybe even honing a favorite passion of his. His misses a bunch of school days and perhaps even skips school on a regular basis. He doesn’t bother taking the PSAT and doesn’t study for the SAT. He doesn’t attract attention. Teachers don’t notice him. Academics don’t sing his praises. Some run-of-the-mill colleges send him acceptance letters. Maybe he’ll go to one of them; maybe he won’t.
He certainly didn’t distinguish himself during his school years and no one expects much from him. Some even say he’s already a failure because of his underachieving. But is he really? There is no pressure on him to be a huge success as an adult. And that means he doesn’t have anywhere to go but up.
So which is the better advice? Telling kids to work as hard as they can? Or telling them to fail?
If you want to place a lot of pressure on your kids and make it hard for them to do anything but go downward as adults, tell them to achieve all they can while they’re young.
But if you want them to succeed in comparison to their childhoods, tell them to fail early in life. That way there will be no pressure on them and they’ll have nowhere to go but up.