fail 03
Should you let your child fail?
01:09 - Source: CNN

Editor’s Note: Kelly Wallace is CNN’s digital correspondent and editor-at-large covering family, career and life. Read her other columns, and follow her reports at CNN Parents and on Twitter.

Story highlights

New book focuses on the importance of grit in children and adults

Millennials, who grew up with helicopter parents, may lack resiliency, co-authors say

Colleges across the country now teaching resiliency on campus

CNN  — 

It’s a phrase I’ve heard more than once from friends who are in hiring positions. “Kids today…” they say, referring to employees in their 20s who complain or threaten to quit soon after starting because either the workload isn’t quite what they expected, or the work itself just isn’t what they want to be doing at this age and stage.

Now, I have to commend these millennials for being so self-actualized that they feel very comfortable moving around to find the perfect gig. But I also wonder, where’s the work ethic, the grit, the resilience? I never questioned working around the clock during my first jobs in my 20s because I believed a good work ethic would help me prove myself and move up, and it did.

Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval are co-authors of "Grit to Great."

Millennials don’t stay very long in jobs, said Robin Koval, co-author of the provocative new book, “Grit to Great: How Perseverance, Passion and Pluck Take You From Ordinary to Extraordinary.” “On the one hand, that’s good because they should be aggressive in developing their careers,” she said, “but on the other hand, some of it is because they have a setback at work and the only way they know how to deal with it is ‘I have to go someplace else.’”

Helicopter parenting, coupled with the belief that we should never let our children fail, have given rise to kids who are ill-prepared to cope with life’s challenges, said Koval and her co-author, Linda Kaplan Thaler, in a joint interview. It’s an issue that educators are grappling with today, as colleges across the country are focusing on ways to teach resiliency. With more research showing hyper-involved parenting leads to more anxious and entitled kids, it’s clear that grit and resilience will benefit our kids in school and once they get into the real world.

Related: Is it OK to let your children fail?

Kaplan Thaler, who along with Koval co-founded the advertising agency Kaplan Thaler Group, was one of those helicopter parents, too. She told a hilarious story of trying to teach her daughter Emily, then 5, how to ride a bicycle. Two years later, Emily still didn’t know how to ride. “Of course,” Thaler says with a laugh. “God forbid I would let her actually fall.”

It wasn’t until an elderly man approached her one day in the park and told Kaplan Thaler to put her hands in her pockets while he pushed Emily on the bike. The man let her go, and she fell. After several more falls, she started riding.

“She is a well-rounded young lady today and I like to think I had a hand in her success mostly because of keeping it in a pocket,” she said.

Both Kaplan Thaler and Koval, who are also the bestselling authors of “The Power of Nice” and