A fascinating study from Tanzania has some interesting possible lessons for parents.  The study stemmed from entrepreneurship training by a group that wanted to figure out why the training wasn’t more effective.   Researchers discovered through interviews that the problem wasn’t knowledge of the training, but self-confidence.  Even though the students knew the principles, “few put that knowledge into action because they lacked the confidence to apply the new information and skills learned.”

So, the researchers added a “growth mindset” component to the training, helping the students understand that failures can bring helpful lessons leading to long-term success.  The results of the experiment showed a significant improvement in the success of the business owners involved in the program.

The research didn’t involve children, but I think the principles still apply.  An important way to help our kids become self-confident is to help them understand that failure isn’t always a bad thing, but another way of learning.  Mistakes are painful, but they don’t have to be the end of the story.  

As one of the researchers said, the training was “about helping people understand that they have the ability to do hard things, overcome challenges, and learn from those challenges.  This helps them accomplish their goals through trial and error.”

Giving our kids permission to learn through trial and error may be one of the best ways we can help them develop resilience.


Debbie Ausburn

Helping foster parents and stepparents learn how to be the person who is not supposed to be there.