The new year has begun, and it is already passing by quickly. It’s a time to restart, progress and move forward.  But are we actually doing this or just worrying about what we haven’t accomplished yet?

So many times, we don’t want to let our faults show.  How dare we look less than human!  But this mindset is damaging, not only to ourselves, but to our children and the people we love.  There is an increasing amount of pressure on kids to perform at a high level of excellence. They must be involved in numerous extra-curricular activities, score high on standardized tests, perform community service for college acceptance, make honor roll to get scholarships, and the list goes on.  Anxiety and depression are at an all-time high in children and research shows it’s not abating.

As adults, we tend to forgive ourselves when we make an error.  We chalk it up to a bad day, being tired or hungry, or whatever the case may be.  Why are we less inclined to let things slide when our kids have not made good choices?  Do we feel it’s our duty to teach them right from wrong?  Are we afraid of the consequence their mistake may have on them or on the family?  Do we want to keep them protected from all the evils of the world?  YES!

But we must remember that mistakes are a part of growing up and essential for learning.

Mistakes allow us to be creative.
Mistakes bring to light problem-solving skills.
Mistakes grant people the freedom to innovate and explore.
Mistakes teach responsibility.
Mistakes grant trust.
Mistakes reveal motivation and success.
Mistakes recognize self-awareness.
Mistakes build resilience.
Mistakes foster self-confidence.
Mistakes yield discipline.
Mistakes uncover reward.

You may disagree with these phrases and believe they actually have a negative effect, but like most issues concerning parenting or education, it’s all in the approach.  We need to support children in the starting over process by acknowledging that good can bloom from a dark spot.

Here are ways you can support your child as they navigate mistakes:

  • Provide guidance, but do not force or pressure them
  • Assist them in setting realistic goals/expectations
  • Provide regular encouragement; not just praise
  • Emphasis effort rather than results
  • Be a healthy role model; being positive, relaxed, and having balance in your life
  • Give them value and love by showing your love regardless of the outcome
  • Have a sense of humor and have fun
    Adapted from Positive Pushing by Jim Taylor, Ph.D

For more resources, here is a list of wonderful children’s books that foster resilience and learning from mistakes:

  • Beautiful Oops! – Barney Saltzberg
  • Rosie Revere, Engineer – Andrea Beaty
  • The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes – Mark Pett
  • The Most Magnificent Thing – Ashley Spires
  • What do you do with a Problem? – Kobi Yamada
  • The Book of Mistakes – Corinna Luyken
  • Eraser – Anna Kang

P.S. Look at what sprung from mistakes:  penicillin, x-rays, pacemakers, safety glass, Velcro, Post-It Notes, microwave ovens, potato chips and chocolate chip cookies.

– Stephanie Koclanis, M.S., CORE Supervisor