We all learn from our mistakes. Every situation is an opportunity for growth. Obviously there are certain mistakes you want to protect your kids from, such as playing on a busy road or sticking their hand on a hot burner. But in other situations, they’ll learn more if left to discover the consequences themselves.
You probably remember a time as a kid when you were corrected by an authority figure and wondered what the big deal was. After all, wouldn’t you have figured out the situation on your own? As a parent, you can learn from this and assess when to step in and when to stand back.
Consider these points to help you be more patient and accepting of your children’s mistakes:
1. Children are children. Because of a child’s age, coordination, lack of judgment, or simplified thought processes, kids are not going to be able to perform a task the way a teen or adult can.
2. Children are works in progress. Because children are developing, learning and growing every day, each new day provides them with opportunities for success.
- Children grow and mature at their own speeds. One child may be able to make his own bed when he’s 5 years old, while another will struggle with this at age 7.
- Depending on the task, a child might be unable to do a job one day, but can do it successfully the next. For this reason, a parent’s patience is required when a child is attempting to complete an assigned job.
3. Sometimes when children err, they have a natural tendency to want to try again. Because this behavior shows perseverance and great effort, parents can reinforce these positive characteristics by simply allowing them to try the task again.
- Showing that you recognize they want to perform goes a long way toward building your child’s sense of self. Applaud your child’s perseverance in this case and tell him he can try again later.
4. Learning from trial and error is still learning. If you observe your child trying a task over and over again without frustration, he’s probably learning something on each try.
- Think about your own experiences of trying to tie shoes or learning to ride a bike without training wheels. The more you did it, the better you got at it.
5. There are other things more important than doing a job “right.” So what if, when your child is done making the bed, the bedspread is crooked? If you consider what matters most, you’ll come up with some characteristics your child demonstrates that you can be proud of.
6. Your child’s self-esteem depends on your reactions. How you react when your child makes a misstep shows him what you think and believe about him.
- When it comes to a child’s self-esteem, allowing him to err at something while at the same time, accepting him the way he is, sends powerful messages of unconditional acceptance and love to your child.
7. Provide encouragement when your child struggles to perform. Since most tasks have various parts to them, look for the portion of the task that your child did well. Tell him he did a good job on that aspect. Acknowledge the task is difficult and that he’ll eventually catch on and do the whole task well.
8. Avoid generating or expressing strong emotions related to your child’s blunder. It’s wise to remain neutral and objective when speaking to a child about his performance of a task.
- If you find yourself feeling frustration or anger about your child’s mistakes, it’s best to give yourself a “time out.”
- Later on, it will be helpful to examine within yourself why you’re experiencing such strong, negative feelings about your child’s actions.
Making it okay for your child to err will go a long way toward solidifying his sense of self and building his self-esteem.
If you consider and apply these ideas when parenting, you and your child will be more comfortable when they experience errors. Because of your approach, they’ll embrace life with optimism, perseverance and feelings of confidence.