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Kindergarten Teacher Says Children Today Are Rewarded Even When They Fail & It’s A Disaster

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children drawing with teacher in class

A kindergarten teacher named Cassie Martinez has criticized parents after noticing the amount of little children in her class who don't know the meaning behind failing at something. In a TikTok video, Martinez claimed that there are so many children who cannot "lose gracefully," and the issue is because of how their parents are presenting rewards to them.

She says children today are rewarded even when they fail.

This topic first arose in a video where Martinez spoke about noticing a big shift in children, as someone who has been teaching kindergarten for 10 years now. She prefaced that while this opinion may be controversial, it's something she stands by, and that is how gentle parenting is ruining children.

"Gentle parenting is not for every child. Some children need a firmer hand if you will. It is starting to impact the schools, it's starting to impact teachers," Martinez said, adding that many teachers are starting to leave the field in droves because of their inability to handle children nowadays.

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Around 55% of teachers are thinking about leaving the profession earlier than they had planned, according to a National Education Association survey. While being underpaid is a huge issue, educators are also feeling the stress of trying to balance things happening in their classrooms, while also dealing with parents, the school district, and school administrators.

Martinez believes that educators are burnt out because of gentle parenting, which is a parenting approach that encourages parents to turn away from using authority on their children and instead approach their children with respect and empathy. But, she also thinks a section of this gentle parenting means that children are not being taught the value of failing.

Receiving a comment from her viral video, Martinez agreed with a viewer who claimed children today need to learn about disappointment and how to deal with mistakes. The kindergarten teacher observed that many children are rewarded regardless of what they do and what the outcome is.

"It is a disaster, in my opinion. You don't earn a reward unless you earn a reward, call me crazy but you don't just get a [prize] because you lost," Martinez insisted. She explained that just recently, she experienced a meltdown in her classroom from one of her students because somebody couldn't find the last Hershey Kiss that she hid around the class for the 100th day of school.

Martinez recalled that there was a "gigantic meltdown" from one of her kindergartners because they couldn't find it and that it lasted "entirely too long" because that student had no idea how to handle failure. 

"It's not even that they failed, they found 10 other ones already. They just didn't get the one they wanted."

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Martinez acknowledged that children don't know that's fine to not get what you want or to come in last place.

"It's okay to not be the best. Children today, they don't know how to handle it," Martinez continued. She urged parents to teach their children not only how to play fairly, but how to lose without believing it to be the end of the world.

Failure is something we all experience, whether we are children or adults. Through failure, we grow and learn from our mistakes so that we don't make them again in the future. 

"The ability to tolerate imperfection—that something is not going exactly your way—is oftentimes more important to learn than whatever the content subject is," Amanda Mintzer, a clinical psychologist told the Child Mind Institute. "Building that skill set is necessary for kids to be able to become more independent and succeed in future endeavors, whether it’s personal goals, academic goals, or just learning how to effectively deal with other people."

Mintzer provided some tools that parents can use when approaching the topic of failure and losing with their children, including showing empathy and reassuring them that it's fine if something didn't go their way, and they tried their best, make it a teachable moment, and also just stepping back and allowing your children to experience failure in the first place.

"Kids aren’t necessarily exposed to the reality that life includes mistakes, missteps, and even failures. As much as everyone likes things to go according to plan, it’s important to teach our children that it is also okay when they don’t," Mintzer added.

Parents should always encourage their children to embrace failure as a natural part of their lives, and while it's frustrating to feel it and experience it, failure doesn't last forever. Teachers are already being tasked with so much, and the least parents can do is make sure their children are being the best student they can be, and using the tools they learn at home to flourish in the classroom.

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Nia Tipton is a Chicago-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.