We each learn from the mistakes and missteps of life. Or, rather, we should learn. Every situation is an opportunity for growth. Obviously there are certain mistakes that we would all want to protect our children from, such as playing on a busy road or sticking their hand on a hot burner. But in most situations, they will learn more if left to discover the consequences for themselves.
You probably remember a time as a child 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 benefit by remembering this and assess when to step in and when to stand back.
Here are a few pointers to help you be more patient and accepting of your children’s mistakes:
1. Children are children. Because of the age of a child, their coordination, lack of judgment, or simplified thought processes, they are not capable of performing some tasks the way a teenager or an adult can.
2. Children, like the rest of us, are works in progress. Because children are developing, learning and growing every day, each new day provides them with opportunities for success.
- Each child grows and matures at their own speed. 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 may 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. Often 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 and self-esteem. Applaud your child for their 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, she is probably learning something on each try.
- Think about your own learning 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 many more 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 will come up with some characteristics your child demonstrates that you can be proud of. Let them know!
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.
- You will become the inner voice of this person as they continue to mature and encounter the outside world.
7. Provide some form of 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 has done well. Tell him that he has done a good job on that particular aspect. Acknowledge that the task is difficult and that she will eventually catch on and do the whole task well.
8. Avoid generating or expressing strong emotions related about your child’s blunder. It is always 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, then it is best that YOU take a “time out.”
- Later on, it will be helpful to examine yourself as o why you are experiencing such strong, negative feelings about your child’s actions. Is there something unresolved in you?
Making it okay for your child to err will go a long way toward solidifying their sense of self and building up their self-esteem.
If you consider and apply these ideas while parenting, you and your child will be much more comfortable when they experience errors.
Because of your balanced approach, they can learn to embrace life with optimism, perseverance and feelings of confidence!