Yelling at Toddlers


When a toddler is learning to walk, they often fall down. Parents helping the toddler walk usually encourage them, guide them and help steady them as they slowly learn. Falling is an expected part of the process.  So expected that I don’t think I’ve ever seen a parent yell at a toddler that fell down while learning to walk.

Yet in other situations, how many times do we see a negative response to a failure.  Even a first failure.  But isn’t that like yelling at a falling toddler?  Does anyone expect that behaviour to help the situation or encourage growth and progress?

Negative responses may be at our own failures or the failures of others.  It may be subtle or an explosive response. It may be a cheap shot taken to bring someone down.  It may even be repressed anger from a prior issue where the failure is just an excuse to respond.  Understanding ourselves and others helps us understand the responses IF we take a moment to consider the situation.

For instance, why we fail is important in forming a response.  Like cholesterol, there are good and bad types of failure. A failure of effort that is complemented by growth, progress and success is a good failure.  A failure that is due to lack of effort and part of a pattern of behaviour is not good.

The old baseball analogy, “You can’t steal second while keeping your foot on first” rings true in life and business.  It is true for how we practice and grow our communication skills.  There is little success without some mixture of failure included.

Every day we should be trying new things, like a toddler talking the first steps.  With that in mind, give yourself, and others, some credit and encouragement when the failures are part of growth.



About the Author

Glenn S. Phillips works with leaders who want to leverage technology and understand risks within. An author and blogger, Glenn is often quoted in national media, plays a really ugly tuba (it even has a bullet hole) and is a fan of dark chocolate and great puns.