By Nikki Bush, Creative parenting expert, inspirational speaker and co-author of Tech-Savvy Parenting (Bookstorm, 2014), Future-proof Your Child (Penguin, 2008), and Easy Answers to Awkward Questions (Metz Press, 2009). Click here to visit her website
Your child knocks over a glass of milk in the preschool years. Your response to this little accident will determine how he/she views their mistakes moving forward. Is making a mistake, such as accidentally spilling the milk, about being wrong or imperfect, or is it about the teachable moment – the lesson learnt?
If we create a scene, as if it is the end of the world, then making mistakes will bring up fear for our child. However, if we take such ‘accidents’ confidently and in our stride (they are going to happen to every child), and help our children to learn from them, then the outcome is usually quite different. “Oops, come quickly, let’s get a cloth and wipe up the milk before it drips on the floor! Now when the cloth is very wet, squeeze it into the bowl like this and then you can carry on wiping up the rest of the milk. Well done!”…….and life carries on.
As adults, we make mistakes everyday too. We are not perfect. We grow through our mistakes – they are one of the ways we learn how to master life. For children, making mistakes helps them to learn about how the world around them works, where their bodies are in relation to each other as well as objects, such as the glass of milk. Mistakes are not the end, they are about new beginnings. They are personal experiences, concrete learning opportunities that allow our children to make different choices so that the same mistake is not made repeatedly.
What the world needs now are millions of solutions-orientated, “can do” children rather than children who don’t even try because they fear the wrath of their parents, or their own imperfection. Most of the issues facing our planet are the result of unintended consequences (or should we say “mistakes”) made by us and even the generation before us. Empower your children by celebrating what they learn through their own little mistakes and you will go a long way to encouraging creative problem solving and resilience, essential qualities as our children mop up the mess caused by mankind’s big mistakes and solve the problems of our planet.