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Your Child Made a Mistake – Now What?

How you react to their mistakes makes a difference!
Has your child ever wanted to try something new but you know they won’t because a voice in their head is saying, “I could make a mistake, look silly and end up feeling embarrassed”? Out of the fear of feeling tough emotions after making a mistake, they may decide to only try things they know they are good at or choose to try, but not around people’s judging eyes.
Mistakes happen even when they try their very best. It’s how you approach their mistakes that makes all the difference. Your reactions can influence their resilience, confidence and self-worth. It can determine how they handle mistakes and what they think of themselves now and into adulthood. Teaching a child that mistakes are an opportunity to learn and grow will encourage them to keep trying.
Instead of shaming, criticizing or focusing on what they did wrong, focus on supporting them through the emotions they may be feeling like embarrassment, frustration, anger and disappointment. Instead of trying to fix their mistakes, teach them to use the four steps below:

  1. Recognize that a mistake was made. Sometimes admitting to a mistake can be hard. To them, it can look like they failed. (Remember to admit to your own mistakes.) 
  2. Release the emotion(s) the mistake brought up. Examples: cry, scream into a pillow, journal, talk, exercise, sing a song, take a shower/bath, etc. 
  3. Reflect on the mistake: “What could I do differently the next time? Who could I ask to help me improve?”
  4. Redirect negative thoughts to: “What could I be grateful for from the mistake?” At first, they might think, “there is nothing to be grateful for.” The simplest way to discover what they could be grateful for is to ask, “What did you learn from the mistake?” It could be as simple as they learned that you support them.

Changing the way children think about mistakes gives them the confidence to keep trying a new skill or task with enthusiasm and joy. 

Until next time…

Sara Westbrook is a professional speaker and creator of UPower Inc, offering keynotes, presentations and workshops on ‘Emotions Change Choices’ to audiences ages 4 -100. She can be found at sarawestbrook.com or on Instagram @iamsarawestbrook.


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