Ep 260: How to Turn Setbacks into Success

Michelle Icard, author of Eight Setbacks That Can Make a Child a Success, returns to clue us in on what to say and do when our teens stumble and fall. We cover Michelle’s easy three-step method to speaking to your teen about any failure.  

If you've enjoyed Talking to Teens, we'd love if you could leave us a five-star rating, and if you have time, a review! 

Full Show Notes

Setbacks and failures might seem like the worst things for teens, but they can actually be pivotal moments that build character strengths. In her new book "Eight Setbacks That Can Make a Child a Success," psychologist and parenting expert Michelle Icard flips the script on our instinct to shield teens from failure. Instead of seeing failure as something to avoid, Michelle helps reframe these experiences as opportunities for teens to grow.

In this episode, Michelle walks us through the three steps she's identified to help teens leverage setbacks on their way to adulthood: separating emotions from events, identifying lessons and values, and planning next steps. We also discuss common setbacks teens face involving friendships, academics, digital life, values, and more. Michelle shares advice for how parents can respond in helpful ways, have constructive conversations, and model resilience.

Why Failure Matters

It's natural for parents to want to protect their teens from hurt, but experiencing failure is how teens build grit and perseverance. Setbacks teach problem-solving skills that are essential for adulthood. Still, watching your teen struggle can be painful. Michelle explains failure is part of an age-old process of identity formation common to cultures across history. Understanding this developmental path can help reframe our perspective.

Michelle also describes her three-step method to help teens process failures in productive ways. By separating emotions, identifying lessons, and planning next actions, parents can guide teens through setbacks without shame. Avoiding judgment and punishment is key.
Common Setbacks Teens Face

Michelle outlines eight of the most common setbacks teens experience today in areas like friendships, school, social media use, values conflicts, risky behaviors, looks and body image, planning for the future, and more. She shares real-life examples and typical parent reactions, explaining how to reframe these cases as learning opportunities.

We dive deeper into a few specific scenarios. Michelle offers insights into tricky situations like helping teens struggling to make friends, addressing rule-breaking and risky behavior, navigating conflicts over values, and guiding teens anxious about the future. Her advice helps move interactions from blame and anger to openness and growth.

Modeling Resilience

Experiencing failure isn’t just part of growing up for teens, it’s an inevitable part of life for adults too. Michelle describes how parents can use their own setbacks as teaching moments. By modeling resilience, honesty, and emotional management, parents show their teens how to transform trials into personal triumphs.

Follow us on Social Media! We're @talkingtoteens on Instagram and TikTok

Creators and Guests

Andy Earle
Andy Earle
Host of the Talking to Teens Podcast and founder of Write It Great
Michelle Icard
Michelle Icard
My new book EIGHT SETBACKS THAT CAN MAKE YOUR CHILD A SUCCESS is available now. Repped by @annasproul
Ep 260: How to Turn Setbacks into Success
Broadcast by