When kids make mistakes, most parents can be quick to judge their incompetence and lack of maturity, but then, it is a learning curve that gives everyone the opportunity to grow and become truly independent.
According to a parenting enthusiast and mum, Gift Adokie, when kids make mistakes that embarrass or disappoint their parents, it is important for parents to learn how to overcome the feelings of failure and not take it personally.
Having worked with parents as an educator of students with severe behaviour issues, she said that parents can do everything “right” and children will still make mistakes. Mistakes are a natural part of life and critical to learning, growing, and becoming independent. Missteps and failures allow kids to gain valuable insight, develop critical thinking skills, and acquire essential traits like resilience, grit, and self-compassion.
According to Adokie: “When your child makes a mistake that disappoints or embarrasses you, berating yourself is not going to help this situation. Feeling guilty is not either. In both cases, you are taking responsibility for something that is not yours to own. If your children think you are blaming yourself for their actions or making excuses for them, that is giving them the wrong message.
“Taking time to communicate your expectations, your belief in their capability, and making a plan for moving forward is a far better way to spend your time and energy.”
Adokie stressed that it may be helpful to keep in mind that when parents take on their children’s mistakes, this becomes a detriment to their children when they get into the real world and do not know how to handle failure or take responsibility for their poor choices.
She added: “By communicating that mistakes are part of life, you also dismiss the notion that perfection is needed in life’s journey, which is also very damaging to personal growth, happiness and wellbeing. We never want our kids to believe they are failures when they experience failure.
“Commending them for owning a mistake and getting back up to try again is extremely beneficial. Sharing mistakes from your own life and how you handled them helps kids perceive you as a trusted source of support when things go wrong.”
Owning your own mistakes and apologising for them provides a powerful example for young people to follow.
She added that, above all, these are the three mistake reminders to keep in the forefront when kids make mistakes:
• How I collect myself and move forward in courage and love after making a misstep shows kids how to move forward in courage and love when they make a misstep.
• We are not the sum of our mistakes; we are not a collection of our failings; we are human and sometimes we just need a moment and every moment is a chance to start anew.
• Mistakes mean we are learning, growing, taking risks, and showing up. The day we stop making mistakes is the day we stop living. Let us live bravely, boldly, flawed, and full of hope.