The Gift of Failure: How to step back and let your child succeed by Jessica Lahey

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The Gift of Failure: How to step back and let your child succeed by Jessica Lahey

Category: Home and Family
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Kate Jones
Reviewed by Kate Jones
Summary: I found this book to be a fairly simple guide book to encouraging a less interfering parenting style. Lahey's conversational style of writing made the book easily accessible and readable, and I liked the fact that her suggestions are based on her personal experience, rather than that of 'experts'.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 272 Date: September 2015
Publisher: Short Books Ltd
ISBN: 978-1780722443

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Lahey's introduction claims today's over-protective failure-avoidant parenting style is responsible for the caution and fear she witnesses in young people every day in her job as a secondary school teacher, causing them to dislike learning. She goes on to claim that, through this parenting style, we have inadvertently taught our kids to fear failure at all costs.

Lahey's theory, which she backs up by reference to some scientific studies, is that it is of the utmost importance to allow our kids to encounter setbacks and mistakes, which she believes will then aid their development by teaching them such invaluable skills as resourcefulness and resilience.

I did find the ideas in the book a little bit Americanised – though she does try to address this for this UK edition by including references to British school year groups. Although the book is written in a mostly conversational tone, it does occasionally delve into the scientific, by quoting experiments carried out into children's learning and also gives a brief history of earlier parenting styles. Whilst some readers may find this background information interesting, I found it took the reader away from the fundamental issues under discussion and I preferred the everyday examples from Lahey's own work and home life to illustrate her points. I also liked how she did her own research into the issue surrounding friendships by discussing this with teenagers themselves, to try to get their perspectives on parents' interventions regarding their friendship groups. This seemed more relevant to the issues than research into other scientific experiments.

I found Lahey frank and open about her methods; particularly when she admits that advocating goals instead of rewards was easier to instil within her classroom than at home with her own children. I found I could relate to the book's themes, being a parent of two children, one being a teenager. She provides some useful basic tips, like, how we can discourage our children from helping out at home by insisting on our too high standards, insisting that chores be accomplished in a certain way. She gives good examples of common mistakes we all make and offers simple, straightforward ideas to tackle these.

Overall, I found the book a useful tool in understanding the need to let go a bit more with your children. After reading, I have found myself trying to allow my own children more autonomy in their decision-making and, although I don't think the book offers entirely new ideas, it does have an easily accessible way of getting the messages across.

Further Reading:

How Not To F*** Them Up by Oliver James

Buy The Gift of Failure: How to step back and let your child succeed by Jessica Lahey at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Gift of Failure: How to step back and let your child succeed by Jessica Lahey at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Gift of Failure: How to step back and let your child succeed by Jessica Lahey at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Gift of Failure: How to step back and let your child succeed by Jessica Lahey at Amazon.com.


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