Allowing Your Child to Make Mistakes

Mistakes provide opportunities to learn how to clean up after oneself

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We learn much more from the mistakes that we make than we do from the things that go well. This is particularly true for children who are in the process of gaining control over themselves.

Create an environment with a friendly attitude to mistakes.

  • Mistakes are a natural part of the learning process, especially when handled with patience and without getting angry. Young children need lots of practice when learning to do something new. It takes time before a young child can eat without spilling things on his clothes or can understand which shoe goes with which foot.
  • When children are allowed to make mistakes they feel they are accepted and loved unconditionally because love is not tied to what they can do or how they behave. What they can do or how they can behave are not things that they have control over at first and when love is dependent on something they cannot control they feel insecure.

Show your child a positive attitude to mistakes

  • Accept that he is still learning. It may be irritating when your child, who is helping to empty the dishwasher drops a plate and breaks it but if we get cross about it he will never want to try doing it again. If instead we take a positive approach and say 'Never mind. Let's get the dustpan and clean it up' he feels like we understand that he did not mean to do it and that he is still learning and he will be more encouraged and inclined to keep trying to get better at it. The more he practises the more control he gains over his body.
  • Try not to take over. It can also be difficult to stand and watch your child struggling to do something that you know you could do easily but he will only get better at things by putting in his own effort. When we jump in and take it over we give him the message that we don't think he is capable of doing it and if we do it too often he gives up trying.

Taking time

  • It will take time for him to perfect something and do it without making mistakes but when he is encouraged to keep practising something because you do not criticise or correct his errors he develops a positive approach to trying things for himself.