Encouraging kids is one of our jobs as parents. But, what exactly does that mean? Encouraged kids feel capable, they have the confidence they need to enjoy life, and they are resilient. We all want kids to feel encouraged. We are always looking for ways to foster this feeling in our kids. One of the best ways to do so is to help kids have a positive perspective on the mistakes that they make.
Kids do their best learning by making mistakes. When they fall while they are trying to walk they learn what they need to do to keep themselves upright. When they take a toy away from another child and the child cries they know that what they do impacts others. When they leave their bike out in the rain and it rusts they learn what not to do. When we let kids alone to cook and they burn the toast they learn by themselves how long they need to keep the bread in the toaster.
Kids need to make mistakes and experience the consequences in order to truly learn.
When we yell at kids for making mistakes, “I can’t believe you didn’t wear your coat, you could have gotten frostbite. What were you thinking?” they can’t hear their own inner voice. The one that would probably say, “Gosh that did not work out. I should have worn my coat today. I was freezing! Next time I won’t forget it.” Instead their mind might be saying, “My parents are so annoying, why do they have to bother me about everything? I am never wearing a coat again, just to spite them.”
Now we know all the pros of letting kids make mistakes, what is holding us back? Most parents are fearful of letting kids make mistakes. We want to protect our kids at all costs. We feel that we are being bad parents if we don’t. We are also genuinely scared that the mistakes that kids will make will ruin their lives. It seems that our generation has such a fear of failure we are scared of doing anything risky that might fail.
We have somehow instilled this in our kids. More and more we are seeing children who fearful of making mistakes. They have a tough time making the smallest decisions. They are hesitant to solve problems and try new experiences. Guarding our kids from making mistakes, curbs creativity and innovation. These are the things that kids are so good at.
We need to change our attitude. We should try to show faith and in our kids and teach them not to fear mistakes. We should try to teach kids that mistakes are not intrinsically bad but they are opportunities to learn.
The best and most simple way to teach your kids to value their mistakes is for us parents to share with our kids the mistakes that we have made and continue to make every day. In our discussions we can focus on what we learned from those errors.
- “This pound cake is the best cake I make. Did I ever tell you it was a mistake? I was making a marble cake but I didn’t have cocoa. I took a risk and made it without the cocoa. I am so glad I did!”
- “I was always having hard time finding my keys. I finally figured out that I have to put in the same pocket in my purse each time I put them away. When I come home I put it right on the key holder by the door. Now I am able to find them without a problem! Sometimes you have to keep on making mistakes until you learn from them.”
Making mistakes is not something to be feared. It is a part of everyday life. Being honest with our kids and teaching our children to deal with their errors will help them feel encouraged, resilient and strong. It creates a “can do” feeling that they will use and treasure their whole lives.
About the Author:
Adina Soclof is a parenting expert we really respect. Learn more from Adina about Raising Resilient Responsible Independent Children.