Help Kids See the Good Side of Getting Things Wrong

From the moment our babies are placed in our arms, we feel that unconditional love, and as they grow, we support them as they learn how to sit, crawl, walk and talk; we guide them as they make friends; teach them how to write their names; and provide comfort after every bumps and bruise. We have a complete list of how to nurture, support, teach, and provide for our children. And although it may feel uncomfortable to some, we also need to provide them with opportunities for learning that comes from getting things wrong. 

Letting children learn from their mistakes can help build resilience and is essential in raising a confident, happy and booming child. When children can struggle and sometimes fail, we allow them to develop necessary social and emotional skills. Of course, we wouldn’t risk their safety or not provide reassurance when needed. However, our role would be to support and guide, not do what they need to learn to do for themselves.

Not learning to tolerate failure leaves kids vulnerable to anxiety. It leads to meltdowns when the inevitable loss occurs, whether in preschool or college. And perhaps even more important, it can make kids give up trying—or trying new things.

Unfortunately, as the world puts increased pressure on kids to be winners and parents feel compelled to enable them in every way possible, we’re seeing more and more kids who become distraught over even the slightest misstep. Here are some opportunities we can help our kids with for learning from getting things wrong:

  • When your child asks for help, try giving him time for trial and error first. For example, when tying shoelaces, you can say, “Let me see you try first, and then I will help with the rest.”
  • When your child asks for an answer. You can start by asking them what they think or have tried. Then you’ll know where you’re starting from and how you can support them as they discover the answer.
  • When something goes wrong, like when they fight with a friend or do something socially inappropriate. Instead of telling your kid how to fix it or fixing it yourself, start by asking how they think they should fix it. 
  • When your child doesn’t do as well as you expected, it’s better to reflect together on what your child did, how they excelled, and what things they have learned. Consider giving encouragement rather than heaping on the praise.

We must also practice and show our kids that mistakes are our best teachers. Children learn a lot by copying the behavior of their parents. So, when we lose our temper or do something, we are not proud of, saying sorry will be good. Children would need to hear when we make mistakes, what the consequences are, and what we learned. It would help them realize that we are all human.

Finally, providing opportunities to develop resilience and coping skills within a loving and supportive environment is best to prepare children for life’s challenges.