Eight Setbacks That Can Make a Child a Success

Eight Setbacks That Can Make a Child a Success

What to Do and What to Say to Turn "Failures" into Character-Building Moments

About the Book

Turn common adolescent missteps, from relationship blunders to rebellions that backfire, into character-building moments—by the author of Fourteen Talks by Age Fourteen.

Every child messes up, sometimes in ways that seem sure to wreck their futures: a bad report card, poor sportsmanship, underaged drinking. These are tough moments for parent and child alike, often complicated by the fear that the misstep is also an indictment of our parenting. But what each of these “fails” has in common for our kids is the precious silver lining of a chance for character building and developing more grit—if we help them process their mistake well.

An invaluable playbook for anxious parents everywhere, Eight Setbacks That Can Make a Child a Success offers specific and unexpected advice about what to say, what not to say, and what to do to help children in eight categories of tense situations. Distilled from Michelle Icard's decades of experience working with tweens, teenagers, and families, it also introduces her signature three-step approach to any kind of failure:

  • Contain: Affirm your child, gather the facts, and control the narrative.
  • Resolve: Explain what went wrong, define clear consequences, teach them to apologize well, and develop a plan to rebuild trust. 
  • Evolve: Reaffirm and re-expand their rights, and establish rewards for good behaviors. 

With empathy, insight, and optimism, Michelle Icard's advice ensures that a child's mistake or rebellion doesn't become the headline of their childhood, but instead becomes a launch pad to a better future.
Read more

Praise for Eight Setbacks That Can Make a Child a Success

“Michelle Icard is a gift to every parent being bounced around by the waves of advice and expertise. The setbacks are coming. So are the overreactions and regrets. Hold this book close. Refer to it often. Share with your partner. This is terra firma.”—Kelly Corrigan, bestselling author of The Middle Place and Tell Me More, host of the Kelly Corrigan Wonders podcast, and host of the PBS show, Tell Me More

“Michelle Icard has written the playbook parents need to turn the inevitable challenges that come with growing up into opportunities for tremendous growth and maturation. This clear-eyed, practical, fun-to-read guide is an essential read for every parent.”—Lisa Damour, PhD, New York Times bestselling author of Untangled, Under Pressure, and The Emotional Lives of Teenagers

“If you’ve ever worried about your kids' mistakes, drop everything and read Eight Setbacks That Can Make a Child a Success. It's a smart, reassuring, and incredibly informative guide that will help parents recognize the value of failure and how to handle it.”—Melinda Wenner Moyer, author of How to Raise Kids Who Aren't Assholes

“Michelle Icard is the master of walking parents and caregivers through the trials of adolescence through relatable examples, organic, easy-to-follow advice, and a tone and sense of humor that takes the alarm out of these moments, and replaces it with empowerment, connection and joy.”—Dr. John Duffy, author of Parenting the New Teen in the Age of Anxiety

“Too many of today’s loving, intelligent, devoted parents are both afraid of and afraid for their children. Michelle Icard to the rescue! With a candid and often light-hearted touch she offers deep insight and up-to-the-minute advice on a dazzling range of topics. I especially appreciate that she’s devised a ‘child’s bill of rights’ that includes the right to make mistakes and, therefore, have the opportunity to learn from them.”—Wendy Mogel, author of The Blessing of a Skinned Knee
Read more

About the Author

Michelle Icard
Michelle Icard has written for the Today show parenting team, NBC News Learn, CNN Science and Wellness, and the Washington Post. The author of Fourteen Talks by Age Fourteen and Middle School Makeover, she has been featured in the Chicago Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, Redbook, Time, and People. Her leadership curriculum for middle schoolers, Athena’s Path and Hero’s Pursuit, have been implemented at schools and summer camps across the United States. Michelle has two young adult children who mostly live elsewhere these days, which leaves lots of time for practicing yoga, walking her dogs, binging shows, and puzzling (crossword and jigsaw) with her husband in Charlotte, North Carolina. More by Michelle Icard
Decorative Carat