Making mistakes is a natural and essential part of learning, growing, and life.
So how do you respond when your kids mess up?
Remember when you were embarrassed by temper tantrums in the grocery store? When they get older, the mistakes change, but sometimes we wonder the same thing.
Are we messing up as a mom? Is that why they keep making such bad decisions?
I’m pretty sure it’s time to stop beating ourselves up for something that is a natural part of growing up, and learning to be independent.
Remember these four things:
Don’t let them think your approval hinges on their success.
There are perks as a parent when our kids are succeeding. We often get positive attention from others, pat ourselves on the back and feel like we are doing a great job as a parent. But, what does it mean when one of our kids messes up? Is our worth as a parent measured by our children’s performance? And, what about their worth and value? Could we be sending the message that our approval (or for that matter, our happiness) is dependent on their accomplishments?
I want them to know that no matter what they do, they matter to me and I will love and accept them.
I have to ask myself on a regular basis what messages I am sending to my kids. I want them to hear loud and clear that it is their life to live. Then, I need to get out there and live my own life.
Trust them to work out their problems without you.
We send an invaluable message to our kids when we have faith in their ability to solve their own problems—rather than jumping in and fixing the mistakes they make.
By listening and asking questions, we will better equip them to come up with their own solutions. When we hand the responsibility back to them and believe in their ability to solve the problems, the likelihood to rise to the occasion increases ten-fold.
Don’t rescue them from the pain.
As an example, my son broke his hand in a fit of anger when playing baseball. When my son broke his hand. I felt embarrassed and disappointed. As a consequence, the coach wouldn’t allow him in the dugout with the team for the rest of the weekend.
I wanted to intervene, to figure out how to “fix the consequences.” Yet, deep down I knew that our son needed to feel the pain and ramifications of his mistake.
The most loving action was to allow our son to face the natural consequences. They have a way of being better teachers than we ever could. As parents, this can be painful to watch. We must “bite the bullet” and resist rescuing no matter how difficult this feels. If we rescue them today, it will only be a matter of time when we find ourselves back in this familiar place wanting to rescue them again.
Don’t hide your own mistakes.
I believe that giving our children the freedom to make mistakes has less to do with our kids and more to do with us. I am learning to shut the voices down and extend myself grace. Life is about learning, no matter what age. We are going to mess up.
When we accept our own flaws and failures, we increase our own capacity to extend the same to our children. Our homes become a place of unconditional acceptance to be human, authentic and honest. Each of us is worthy of being loved, accepted and valued, regardless of the mistakes we make.
Growing into a well-adjusted human being is about growing up and learning from our mistakes. When our children “mess up,” it’s an opportunity, not only for their own growth and development, but for ours as well.