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Making Lemonade Out of Lemons: What Making Mistakes Teaches Us

Saying “No!” and meaning it a big part of parenting; equally important is how you frame conversations about your child’s mistakes. Turn making a mistake into a problem-solving opportunity. Brain science research tells us that making mistakes can help us learn. Doing it wrong should send the message to work harder to get it right, not discourage you from trying. So, what can we do as parents to encourage this “growth” mindset? To give children confidence to feel good about themselves and their abilities to ultimately get it right requires that parents lay a foundation, all of which are building blocks of positive parenting:

  • Manage expectations: this strategy only works when expectations are realistic. What is being asked should be age/developmentally appropriate.
  • Set a good example: when you get frustrated or mess up, do you rage or laugh at yourself?
  • Be patient with accidents and mistakes. Calmly having kids clean up their own messes teach responsibility and that these things do happen.
  • Recognize effort; find the positive and ask what lesson was learned.
  • Don’t solve your child’s problems for her. Throw a lifeline to help her understand her mistakes and focus on how to find solutions.
  • Empathize. Show you understand and believe in your child’s abilities.
  • Consequences still matter. Don’t skip the conversation about how to right a wrong.
  • Stay in the moment; don’t shift focus to past mistakes.
  • Problem solving doesn’t always work in all situations; some problems can’t be solved, know when to try a different approach.

The process of how you do something sometimes matters more than the result or outcome. The lessons that stay with you are the ones that you own. The key is to make figuring something out a part of the fun.

Another piece of developing your child’s confidence by allowing them room to learn from their experience, both good and bad, is backing off from being the over-involved parent. Sometimes demonstrating love by being in the middle of your child’s life experience blocks them from developing the very independence and resiliency you want from them.

Here’s an interesting take:  When to Advocate for Your Child and When to Back-off.It’s a quick read and will help give you some perspective.

Want to read more: How Making Mistakes Primes Kids to Learn BetterLearn From Mistakes and How Praise Became the Consolation Prize.

Don’t forget that how you communicate is as important as what you communicate. Here’s a link to a simple chart for giving good directions.