How to Help Your Child with Failure to Launch

“Failure to launch” has been used recently to describe grown children who, for one reason or another, aren’t willing or able to leave their family home to pursue their own goals, lead independent lives and become self-sufficient. This phenomenon is on the rise, and it’s important to understand what can cause it and what you can do to help a child get through it. 

Most parents who have an adult child who has “failed to launch” identify some of these factors being present in their child:

  • Unwillingness or inability to take on responsibilities
  • Low self-esteem
  • Cautiousness to new situations
  • Avoidance of social situations
  • Extreme introversion
  • Learning issues or issues in school
  • Lack of engagement in activities or sports or hobbies
  • Dependency on parents and others
  • Low levels of self-motivation

Mental Health Issues Associated with Failure to Launch

The following diagnoses have been associated with children who have failure to launch:

Preventing Failure to Launch

If you are able to identify the above early signs, early intervention may prevent failure to launch from happening. For children with self-esteem issues, engaging a therapist early can lead to increased self-esteem and failure/rejection coping mechanisms that the child can learn and harness as they go through life. For children with social avoidance or extreme introversion, a diagnosis of social anxiety should be considered and treated early. Learning issues can be identified by early testing, and interventions in the school and at home can help a child to improve their school success. And, lastly, getting a child engaged in an activity or hobby that they enjoy can bring meaning and purpose to their lives and increase their self-esteem. They don’t have to be a star soccer player, but finding an activity that is both healthy and enjoyable for them so that they are the driving

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4 parenting tips to break the negativity loop – Harvard Health Blog

“It’s a beautiful day outside,” you say, smiling. Your son replies, “It’s supposed to rain later.” You share, “That game was fun!” Your daughter adds, “I messed up one of my turns.”

If you find that your child tends to channel Eeyore from Winnie-the-Pooh and has difficulty seeing some of the bright moments in a day, below are some ways to help them interrupt a negativity loop. The first tip works well for all ages. Choose the other tools depending on whether your children are younger or older.

Start by validating emotions

Parents have a lot of wisdom to share with their children, and their advice often is filled with a lot of logic. Unfortunately, that logic tends to backfire when shared with someone experiencing an unhappy emotion, and can make the emotion even stronger. Both children and adults need to feel heard before their ears can open up and hear what else you have to say, so try to validate first before you try to help children appreciate positive aspects of a situation.

Validation allows us all to feel heard. You are not agreeing or disagreeing with the emotion; you’re showing that you see it. For example, if your daughter comes home sulking after scoring two goals in soccer and missing the final one, you might have the urge to say, “Why are you so sad? You scored two goals and looked like you were having so much fun while playing!” Your intention is kind, yet does not match your daughter’s experience. Instead, try reflecting how she is feeling by saying, “You’re disappointed that you didn’t make that final shot.” This acknowledges that your daughter is disappointed without agreeing or disagreeing with her.

Sometimes, it’s enough to leave it at that. When you think it’s important to have your

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Helm, P., & McClements, R. (1996). Multimedia enterprise training: The large thing or the subsequent neatest thing? In J. Frankl & B. ‘Reilly (Eds.). 1996EDEN Conference: Lifelong learning, open learning, distance studying(pp. 134-137). Poitiers, France: European Distance Education Network. Utilisation of any media, together with social media ought to be carefully thought of. It could change …

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