Teach Children to Embrace their Mistakes
Road Trip With Good Friends
A couple weeks ago I was on a road trip with some good friends.
We went to Buffalo for a dance workshop
and we all had a really good time.
Making a Mistake
On the way home I was given the task of navigating.
We were a bit behind schedule and the drive
was taking longer than expected.
At one point I got a little confused and
wasn’t sure exactly where we were going.
On top of that the settings had changed in the GPS
on my phone and it was giving me some bad advice!
I made an error and we ended up taking a wrong turn.
Fear Took Over
Immediately my whole body tensed up
and I became afraid.
I felt that the driver was going to get angry and
he was going to yell at me.
I also thought that the other passengers
were going to complain and think badly of me.
I felt like they wouldn’t like me and
wouldn’t want to be my friends.
I felt small, unworthy of friendship
and separate from the group.
All of this flashed through my mind and heart
in a space of a couple of seconds.
It was my all-consuming reality at that moment.
Reality Didn’t Match My Fearful Expectations
The real realty however was quite different.
Nobody made the slightest remark
about my error in directions.
The driver didn’t seem to be upset in the slightest.
Everyone continued to just laugh, joke
and talk as we had been
and just waited for me
to tell them which way to turn to get back on track.
In that moment I realized how
deep that reaction was and
how separate from my present reality it was.
These people are my Friends and they Love me
They didn’t care that I made a mistake.
It took me a couple of minutes to take all of this in.
I had to look into each of their eyes
and feel the love in their voices
before I could really believe
that they weren’t upset with me.
Receiving Love and Empathy
After some time has passed and I relaxed a little bit
I shared this experience with them.
The outpouring of love and empathy from them
was quite beautiful and it reinforced the fact
that they really do love and accept me.
Childhood Wounds Run Deep
This experience shows me how deep the
wounds of my childhood go.
The fear of being seen as less worthy of
love and acceptance for having made a mistake
is powerful within me.
I know it affects every aspect of my life.
It affects my decision making,
my friendships and
my willingness to take risks.
Much of the inner work that I do is geared towards
healing these fear based wounds and self-concepts
so I can believe that I am worth friendship and love.
Intellectually I know I am
and compared to myself a number of years ago
I’m so much better in this regard.
Yet the residue of my painful past lingers.
Setting parenting priorities around
acceptance and a positive attitude towards mistakes
As a parent this has always been
one of my primary areas of focus.
To make sure that my daughter knows that she is
unconditionally worthy of love, respect,
acceptance and friendship.
I wanted her to know that making mistakes
does not diminish her worth in any way.
Putting this into practice is
an intense and powerful thing
It means that I have had to watch my reaction
every time she makes what I consider a mistake.
Mistakes are to be learned from.
Mistakes are to be celebrated.
Mistakes are to be explored.
Mistakes are to be embraced.
Mistakes are to be made over
and over and over again.
Mistakes are to be made fearlessly.
Responding in a consistently positive manner
Mistakes are not to be punished in any way.
They are not to be a source of disapproval in any way.
There could not even be an expectation that
she would only make a mistake once,
learn from it and then never make it again!
Let us raise our children to embrace their mistakes
Imagine if we could raise our kids to
truly embrace their own mistakes
and use them as the wonderful learning
opportunities that they are.
Imagine if we could raise our kids to believe
that making mistakes does not diminish them in any way.
This would be a huge leap forward in their development.
It would give them a power and strength
that could last their whole lives and
allow them to follow their dreams.
It’s Hard To Give What We Didn’t Receive
The hard part is most of us were
not given that kind of completely open support
when making mistakes.
We were punished and given consequences.
Some of us were hit
and most of us at least received disapproval.
Certainly we did not experience
true celebration of mistakes
on a consistent basis.
Reprogramming Our Own Relationship to Mistakes
Therefore in order for us to do this for our children
it requires a significant rewiring of our brains
so that we can see mistakes in a totally new way.
In order for it to be really effective
we have to do this for ourselves and our children
at the same time.
Loving and accepting ourselves more
so we can love and accept our kids more.