In our efforts to protect children, we take valuable opportunities of learning away from them. Mistakes are the essence of learning. As we have new experiences and develop competence, it’s inevitable we make mistakes. If failure is held as a sign of incompetence and something to be avoided, children will start to avoid the challenges necessary for learning.
Protecting your kids from failure isn’t helpful. Here’s how to build their resilience:
- When your child asks for help: Try giving your child time for trial and error. If your child is non-verbal, give words to his actions so he can start to learn the process.
- When your child asks for an answer: A common parental instinct is to share all your hard-earned wisdom, but in most cases it’s best to support your children as they learn on their own. Start by asking them what they think or what they have tried. Support them as they experiment, make mistakes, and discover why they weren’t right.
- When something goes wrong: Instead of telling your children how to fix it or fixing it yourself, start by asking how they think they should fix it. Guiding children to reflect on the problem takes more time but provides rich opportunities for learning and skill-building. While children learn from mistakes, they also develop the self-confidence, self-concept, and moral judgement that comes from doing something like apologizing and working to right a wrong.
- When your child doesn’t do as well as you expected: Reflect together on what children did, how they excelled, and things they have learned. Their personal growth and achievement should be the focus of these conversations rather than the mistake or failure itself. Consider encouraging rather than heaping on praise to focus children on positive outcomes.
Coach Benjamin Mizrahi. Educator. Learning Specialist. Family Coach. Father. Husband.
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