My most powerful “Aha! moments” have come from making gut wrenching mistakes and minor faux pas.  As a child, I recall my mom saying, “Do what you think is right.” Argh!  Of course, I knew it wasn’t right!  Even though it was painful at times to feel complete responsibility for my own mistakes, I am now thankful for them.

When children get incorrect answers on tests or quizzes, their grades suffer commensurately.  Of course, no one likes to be wrong AND what would those mistakes feel like if they were seen as part of learning instead of negative self-talk like “I’m stupid”?

If your child is facing a dilemma, your initial instinct may be to rescue them – but wait!  Don’t take away your child’s opportunity to make a choice and don’t bully them into doing it your way.  They may not make the healthiest choice on the first try and that is ok.  Allowing them to develop a strong sense of self will help them choose wisely the second time around.  Given enough time, both children and adults will see the learning experiences in the mistakes they have made.  Remember to offer guidance, have patience, and enjoy the journey of turning mistakes into triumph.

Helpful Tips for Parents & Caregivers

  • Praise your child’s successes (even very small ones) and praise your child when they try hard.
  • Tell children what to do instead of what not to do.  For example, instead of “don’t throw the ball” say “roll the ball on the floor.”
  • Let children know that mistakes are a natural part of growing up and that everyone, including adults, makes mistakes
  • Try to ignore temper tantrums and other negative behavior as much as possible.
  • Show appreciation when children cooperate, help, say kind things to other children, obey rules, and do other positive things.
  • Exhibit self-control and patience while your child is learning new skills. Children do not learn new skills all at once.
  • Separate the misbehavior from the child.  Say “I don’t like it when you throw toys, but I still like you.  I know you will do better tomorrow.”
  • Most importantly, let your child know you believe in them.

Clara Bossie, MS, LMFT-S, CEDS, E-RYT is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist at Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches. Her specialties include behavioral issues, learning and developmental disorders, and anxiety disorders, including Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. She offers individual and couples counseling, as well as child and parent coaching.