Mistakes are okay

Parenting Principle #4: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes

Life is in a constant flow of success and failure, of happiness and disappointment. This is the nature of life. It is uncomfortable and difficult, but going through difficulty builds resilience. If you find that your child has made a mistake, you may want to comfort them and solve the problem for them.

Let your child hold the tension. This will continue to help them take responsibility for their actions. When they’re able to feel the feelings that go along with making the mistake, they’ll be able to evaluate their values and learn what it feels like when they are or are not acting in accordance with those values.

When you come in to save the day when something goes wrong, your child will begin to think that he can’t solve problems without you. This could lead to feelings of helplessness and doubt in the future.

When you let your child have ownership of the mistake, you teach them that you know they can handle it.

When to Step In

Let your child fail safely. When your child is about to make a mistake that you know will cause harm, it’s valuable to step in sooner rather than later. Kids don’t have fully-developed frontal lobes in their brains. This means they’re not fully able to think through the consequences of their actions. Sometimes you need to point this out to them and have a conversation.

You can give guidance when your child asks for help. Part of making mistakes means learning how to ask for help. If your child reaches out for help, you can guide him in the right direction. In fact, these can be valuable moments of communication and understanding.

You don’t need to give more help than your boundaries permit. However, when it’s appropriate you can provide assistance.

Foster Independence

If your child makes a mistake, it means she was trying to make a decision for herself and her own individuality. That’s a good thing! When you make all of the decisions for your child, she won’t feel comfortable to navigate failure and learn from it.

When failure comes in the real world, she’ll feel helpless and lost rather than well-equipped to handle any difficulties. If you can teach your child to grow through mistakes at an early age, she will know the coping skills she needs to handle anything in the future.

Looking for solutions to problems happens in the midst of problems. You don’t need to leave your child out in the wild alone, but you don’t need to hold her hand, either. You can find a happy medium and be a source of wisdom while your child is gaining her own wisdom.

Going through trials and tribulations builds character and compassion. By experiencing failure, your child can better connect with the authentic human experience.

Though you don’t need to coddle your children through their mistakes, you also do not have to give up on them. If you give up on your child, he will likely sense this negativity and respond adversely to it.