Being a kid is tricky, and the demands for learning are real and complex. Children develop and navigate life at different rates and stages depending upon the emotional, physical, and spiritual support they are provided along the way. This is especially true during those moments when mistakes occur. The most recent brain and mind science shows that by helping children learn from their mistakes, we enhance their learning potential across their lifespan. Both effort and motivation are increased, and resilience is expanded. Wow!
Of course we want these benefits for our children, but helping them learn from mistakes isn’t always easy, especially if we did not grow up receiving the message that mistakes are fantastic opportunities to learn, grow, discover, explore, and correct our errors. Instead, we may have experienced feelings of shame, guilt, or embarrassment over something we did. Maybe we were scolded, reprimanded, given looks of disapproval, or labeled in some way when a mistake was made.
But here’s some good news: It’s never too late to shift our mindset about mistakes, regardless of what we’ve been conditioned to believe! We do this by building our self-awareness skills. Thinking about how we learned about mistakes and how this made us feel is a great place to start. Mistakes (even the small ones) can seem devastating to a child, and it is our responsibility as adults to show that there is a positive side to getting things wrong.
Show your child that mistakes are a normal part of living, and they are opportunities to learn and grow. This helps them to develop solid self-management skills for coping with challenging emotions and situations:
- Share with your child that “We all make mistakes—we are human beings, after all!”
- Communicate that sometimes when we make mistakes, it’s important to stop and notice what feelings and emotions we are experiencing (this helps to develop a sense of self-awareness).
- Explain that we often feel guilt, shame, embarrassment, or fear when a mistake has been made, which can lead to flipping our lids and losing our cool.
- Remind your child that it’s okay to feel a certain way, but it’s not a good idea to stay stuck in a feeling if that emotion doesn’t help them to feel safe, connected, and loved.
- Help your child begin to see these situations as opportunities to develop the skills of discernment, wisdom, and good judgment, which they can put into practice the next time they face a similar situation.
Helping our children learn to navigate mistakes both big and small—and, more importantly, the emotions that can be associated with the situations involving those mistakes—will undoubtedly have the biggest impact upon their social and emotional well-being as they develop and grow into healthy people in the world. Most mistakes are unintentional, and your child can adapt and overcome these bumps in the road with your loving support and guidance.
These coloring pages for kids (and tips page for adults!)
come straight from my book Some Days I Make Mistakes
. This newest book in the Calm Cool Kids series has even more information about how to teach your kids to take mistakes and turn them into opportunities!
May you and your children be forever well, safe, healthy, and happy as you calm the heart, mind, and body together.