How to Teach Kids to Learn from their Mistakes


With only the one child, I often find myself over-protecting her and pre-empting mistakes by constantly reminding her about things or telling her the potential consequences of her actions.  She’s now 9 years old and I should be stepping back and letting her take more charge of her life.  But it’s hard to let go.  I have found myself driving her back to school nearly every week this school year to retrieve forgotten textbooks and homework.  The logical “me” knows that letting her take the consequences of not handing in her homework on time will be a better learning experience for her in the long-term, but the emotional “me” still seem to be set on the short-term track.

So I turned to some online resources to find out what I can do to help my child to learn from her mistakes without becoming too discouraged:

-          Don’t chastise them and tell them what they did wrong (oh, I can so see myself doing this).  Instead have a discussion with them about what they did wrong, how they think they could avoid a similar mistake from happening in the future and what they feel they have learned from the situation. Kids need to realize that almost any mistake can be fixed, so they don’t fear making future decisions.

-          Keep the discussion positive and encouraging so your kids don’t feel that a mistake automatically means they have failed.  By learning about how to deal with their own mistakes will make them more sympathy towards other kids when they make mistakes.  We all make mistakes (apart from my husband who claims he’s perfect – guffaw!)

-          Teach your kids to just admitting to their mistakes and to find a way to make them right, instead of trying to hide their mistakes.  Help them learn that obsessing and worrying about what they can’t change is futile and work towards learning to fix what can be fixed. 

-          Children read and take their cues from our emotions, so getting really mad at them will make the mistake seem so much worse and kids can get overly dramatic about the mistake.  Avoid the temptation to “blow up” (note to myself) and deal with the mistake in a rational manner.  That way your kids will demonstrate a proper response to their mistakes.

Equipped with these pieces of advice, let’s see if I can learn to help my child be more responsive to her mistakes.  How do you deal with the mistakes your kids make?  Any good advice?

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