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. Some children may be able to make their own beds when they’re 5 years old, while others 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 behaviour 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(ren)’s sense of self. Applaud your child’s perseverance in this case and tell them they can try again later.

4. Learning from trial and error is still learning. If you observe your children trying a task over and over again without frustration, they’re 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 children make a misstep shows them what you think and believe about them.

  • When it comes to children’s self-esteem, allowing them to err at something while at the same time, accepting them the way they are, sends powerful messages of unconditional acceptance and love.

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 them they did a good job on that aspect. Acknowledge the task is difficult and that they’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 children about their 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 their sense of self and building their self-esteem.

If you consider and apply these ideas when parenting, you and your child(ren) will be more comfortable when they experience errors. Because of your approach, they’ll embrace life with optimism, perseverance and feelings of confidence.

About The Author – Ed Gough, Jr.

Ed's experience working with fathers and men injects an extra dose of thoughtfulness into all of his conversations in these areas. His mission is to bring purpose and clarity to fathers' and men's lives. He believes that "the better men are, the better the world will be". 

Ed has been a member of Dad central (Ontario) Steering Committee since May 2019. Ed hosts Dad Central's monthly epic events and was the moderator for the "Dad's Panel" at the 2019 Side-by-Side: Fatherhood Matters in the Early Years" conference.

Ed has been the host and producer of his own award winning online show The Dr. Vibe Show™ for the last decade. He's done over 2000 interviews with people from all over the world. In 2018, The Dr. Vibe Show™ was the recipient of the Innovation Award by the Canadian Ethnic Media Association (CEMA). Since May 2013, The Dr. Vibe Show™ is the first and only online show to be regularly featured on the popular U.S. based men’s website The Good Men Project.

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