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Parents Should Teach Children The Art Of Making Mistakes

Generations of people have passed on the untruth that making mistakes is to be avoided at all costs.

16/10/2017 03:59 SAST
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Parents need to lead by example.

Imagine if babies were afraid of making mistakes. Learning to walk, holding a cup and speaking a language would be nearly impossible skills to master. For how would they learn to do anything new? How could they achieve any level of skill at anything if they didn't stumble and fall?

Why, then, have we developed a fear of and a loathing intolerance for our best friend, the mistake? Why are our children so afraid of making mistakes that they often prefer not to even try? Why do we allow ourselves to feel enslaved by the very thing we should embrace?

We need to shake up our thinking in terms of mistake-making. Generations of people have passed on the untruth that making mistakes is to be avoided at all costs and worse, making mistakes, even minor ones, means punishment and humiliation.

Mistakes, for so many children, are a constant source of anxiety and fear. Surely it is time to consider the merits of making effective mistakes! After all, it is only through making mistakes that we are able to learn anything new.

Bill Gates and Richard Branson are examples of modern-day business people who used their devastating mistakes to learn valuable lessons that would eventually catapult them to success. Thomas Edison failed a whopping 9,000 times in his quest to create the electric light bulb.

He is famous for saying that he would never give up because he had simply learned 9,000 different ways of how not to make a lightbulb.

An effective way to teach our children to embrace their mistakes and use them as valuable opportunities to learn is if we, as parents, own and embrace OUR mistakes.

So, if the path to success is paved with mistakes, how do we master that art and instil this learning in our children?

Here are some ideas on how we can achieve this:

  1. You need to embrace mistakes: There is only one effective way to teach our children to embrace their mistakes and use them as valuable opportunities to learn. As parents, WE need to own and embrace OUR mistakes. We need to acknowledge them for what they are and find effective solutions as we learn better ways of doing things. We need to teach our children to be comfortable with making mistakes because we are comfortable in making our mistakes.
  2. Teach them to own their mistakes: One of the most valuable tools that you can give your child is to teach him to own his mistakes. To achieve this, we need to remove the fear that is associated with making mistakes by finding it within ourselves to be tolerant of the imperfectness of our children. After all, we are no strangers to making mistakes. As parents, our reaction to any mistake will set the tone for ownership and positive learning. This does not mean that consequences are no longer important -- quite the opposite! Choose your battles. Accidents are accidents and deliberate mistakes are choices.

Children who are taught to use their mistakes as learning opportunities are considerably less anxious and are significantly more confident in their exploration of the world they live in, and this is beautiful!