How Challenges Allow for Growth and Confidence

Stepping outside of your comfort zone to try new and challenging things can be a scary endeavor, particularly for adolescents who fear failing in front of their peers. However, research indicates that failure can actually be a positive outcome for children because it allows them to push the boundaries of their capabilities and adopt a growth mindset that failure is just a crucial step on the path to learning.

Why challenging yourself can lead to positive outcomes

When children allow themselves to open up to a new challenge, they are simultaneously practicing numerous lifelong skills such as committing energy, finding motivation, identifying a source of incentive, and engaging in healthy risks. If they find success, they can grow in their self-confidence and self-esteem, and even if they are met with failure they can glean important lessons about self-growth and perseverance.

Encouraging children to engage in constructive challenges also helps them stay in the difficult-to-find middle ground between boredom and rebellion. Both bored and rebellious adolescents can give in to impulse and make poor choices because they feel they lack purpose, so finding creative ways to challenge your child can give her direction.

When adolescents feel like they have a purpose, they are more likely to take the initiative to engage in activities that support that purpose. Initiative is developed through mastery experiences and supportive relationships with adults and has been found to account for more than 75% of life success.

How to encourage your child to challenge themselves and let go of their fear of failure


There are many ways you can help encourage your child to say yes to constructive challenges. First, you will want to make sure that the challenge aligns with your child’s personal interests and goals because it will activate their internal motivation. Internal rewards consist of creativity, dignity, autonomy or making a difference in people’s lives and these rewards will help develop initiative.

The next thing to consider is the environment in which these challenges take place. Constructive challenges need to take place in environments where there are rules and complexities that are built into the real world. Adolescents must have the opportunities to think critically about themselves and the world, learn to get along with peers and adults, and reflect on their progress. Making sure these challenges take place in a real world environment allows kids to get feedback on their progress and make adjustments if needed. This feedback loop helps boost adolescent autonomy and prepare them for future endeavors.

Finally, children must continue to engage with these challenges even when they become difficult or they are met with moments of failure. Persisting through the difficult periods teaches resilience, courage, and determination.


Trails Carolina can help

Trails Carolina is a leading wilderness therapy program that will help give your child the confidence, coping mechanisms, and communication skills to face all of her challenges head on. Our multidisciplinary team of caring, expert staff will be there to guide your child along their unique path to psychological and emotional wellness. This journey can lead to a renewed sense of self and a happier, healthier future brimming with opportunity. For more information please call (828) 408-0396.

Posted in
Avatar of Jeremy Whitworth

Jeremy Whitworth

As Executive Director at Trails Carolina, a leading wilderness therapy program for youth and teens, I oversee operations and collaborate with our leadership team. Since 2022, I've also hosted the Common Ground Podcast for parents: With a background in Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education, I've managed adventure-based therapeutic programs across the US and Canada. My experiences in competitive athletics and adventure sports have honed my leadership, risk assessment, and decision-making skills, which I apply to running a successful business like Trails Carolina.

Get started today

Contact us today to learn how Trails Carolina can help your family

Contact Us LP

Trails saved my daughter’s life. Amanda is an amazing human and a brilliant therapist. I am so grateful to her, Science Steve, and the other wonderful people who could reach my daughter at a time when I could not.

Margot Lowman August 2022

Great life changing experience for our son. After becoming addicted to gaming during covid he was very depressed. At Trails he experienced the wilderness, Science Steve, learning survival skills and top notch therapy and support etc… I highly recommend! This gave our son and our family a renewed family bond full of love and excitement about his bright future.

Winnifred Wilson July 2022


Outstanding clinical work and superb staff! There’s a great culture at this company and it shows with how they engage with families/clients.

Kristin Brace June 2022


Discover If Trails Is The Right Program For Your Child

Take our short online assessment and help us better understand how we can help your family.

A teen stands at the meeting point of two trails in the forest, one leading higher towards the light and one leading down into darkness

Top 5 Common Myths About Wilderness Therapy For Youth: Understanding The History and Today’s Reality

Today, families have access to supportive, safe, and nurturing therapeutic treatment programs. Modern wilderness therapy programs, like Trails Carolina, are far from the punitive boot camps they are often portrayed as. 
A red-headed young woman sits on a hilltop overlooking forested mountains in front of her.

Treatment For Anxiety In Teens: How Wilderness Therapy Can Help

At Trails Carolina, we will give your child the skills to manage anxiety in real-time as soon as they arrive on our campus. They will very quickly gain a sense of belonging at Trails because of the sense of community that naturally occurs with the other students who are dealing with the common struggles of learning to manage adolescent anxiety.
Treating Oppositional Defiant Disorder - A teen boy in a beanie and a sweatshirt glowers at the viewer in the woods.

Dealing with Defiance: Six Tips for Decreasing Defiant Behavior

Most parents know what is like to live with a defiant teenager. Teens often feel inclined to push buttons and test the limits enforced upon them. This can be extremely frustrating for parents and create a constant power struggle within the home. The teenage years are when one is trying to figure out where they…
family reuniting - trails carolina reviews
Trails Carolina’s wilderness camps for troubled teens are dedicated to helping teens work through behavioral or emotional difficulties, build trusting relationships with their family and peers, and achieve academic success.