As much as the television show of the same name declares “Father Knows Best,” there are times when both fathers and mothers make mistakes. It’s important for parents to recognize that not only will they make mistakes, but it’s actually healthy for them to make mistakes and even to let their kids know about the error.
It’s natural for you to want to be strong for your kids. In some ways, you’d probably like for your kids to see you as all-knowing and infallible.
However, that’s a lot of pressure on you as a parent and human being. It also gives your kids a false impression of who you are and what they can expect in life.
Making mistakes is part of life and part of growing and learning. Some mistakes are small and others are huge.
Hopefully with every mistake you make, you learn more about yourself and the world around you. That doesn’t mean you won’t still make mistakes in the future, but at least you’ll make different ones.
Teaching your kids that mistakes are part of growing up may seem pretty straightforward. You can encourage your kids to try new things. You may even tell them that it isn’t about avoiding failure, but about picking themselves back up again.
Yet if you never demonstrate or admit to making a mistake, they’ll feel that they’re expected to be perfect too.
The problem with trying to be perfect is that you can’t be perfect and continue to evolve. Most people are only perfect at something that they’ve done over and over again.
You may have an innate skill that allows you to be really good at something right from the start, but even then, improving at any skill will include making mistakes or failing.
People who are afraid of making mistakes stop taking risks. They only do things that they’re already confident in their ability to accomplish. For this reason alone, you should encourage your kids to take some risks, to explore, and to try new things.
When you only reward based on results, you may be inadvertently encouraging your kids to limit themselves. Rather than increasing their confidence, you may be instilling the idea that you’ll only love them when they do well.
To avoid this, you have to learn to recognize your children’s individual talents, but also reward them for trying new things. You also have to be willing to be a role model. It’s important to walk the talk and get out there, try new things, and make some mistakes. Once you make the mistake, show your kids some humility and pick yourself back up to try again – there’s no shame in failing and it’s important to convey this message however you can.
Another aspect of modeling mistakes for your kids is admitting when you’ve made a mistake that ended up hurting someone. It might be financial, physical, or an emotional hurt. When you admit to your children that you made a mistake that ended up in their being hurt, you give them the opportunity to explore their feelings. You also provide them with an example of how to apologize to another when something they do causes harm.
Your Internal Guidance System (IGS) can help you teach your children respect and empathy for others. Your IGS is also a great tool for your own awareness of when you’re doing well and when you’ve made a mistake. Making amends isn’t a sign of weakness. Instead, it’s great teaching opportunity. You get to demonstrate to your kids that although human beings are imperfect, it doesn’t keep them from being loving and kind.
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