We All Make Mistakes. Kids Included.

Wouldn't it be frustrating if every time we made a mistake, someone was there to point it out? That would drive me crazy. I am usually well aware when I mess up. The last thing I want/need is someone making a big deal about it.  All. The. Time 

Mistakes are part of life. We have all made mistakes, and we will make more. The important part about mistakes, is to learn from them. 

When it comes to our children, we have to be careful. We don't want them to feel like all we do is point out all the things they are doing wrong. Instead, we need to help them learn from their mistakes.

Learning from our mistakes is a vital part of growing up. In fact, research shows us that kids learn more from making mistakes, then taking the easy route and getting everything correct all the time. 

Here is what we need to keep in mind when it comes to our kids and their mishaps.
  • Be patient. Don't scoff and sigh. 
Remember, these are our children. They are learning and growing and trying to do their best. We went through the same things. When our 3 year old has an accident for the third time in one day and we have to clean it up, sighing and scoffing and complaining about the mistake will only hurt your relationships with your child. Laugh, clean up, and move on. Don't use it as a tool to make your child feel bad because you have to clean up their mess either. 
  • Acknowledge that you don't expect your children to be perfect. Praise effort. 
This does not mean that we set low expectations. It means that we recognize that no one is perfect and we want them to do the best that they can. We do not want our children to be afraid of making a mistake. Those types of feelings will keep them from even trying. It will also keep them from confiding in us and being honest because they will not want to get in trouble. Expecting perfection is not realistic. Don't be unrealistic. We shouldn't put that type of pressure on our kids.
  • Make it clear your love is unconditional, regardless of their mistakes. Never withhold a hug. 
Never, ever, ever, withhold love because your child has made a mistake. Our love is unconditional, regardless of the mistake or misstep. Fewer mistakes does not mean we show more love. Nor should children feel they have to earn our love. 
  • Don't rescue children from their mistakes. Instead, help them focus on the solution. Change the focus.
Don't pretend the mistakes didn't happen, or that they are not real. Remember, mistakes can make us better, they help us grow. Our job is not to rescue them when they make a mistake, but instead to help them focus on a solution to the problem and avoiding making the same mistake again. 
  • Share examples of your own mistakes. What happened. What did you learn? Let them know you can relate and understand. 
Where appropriate (use good judgement, this doesn't mean we share all our past mistakes), use personal examples to teach our children. Be sure you explain what you learned, and how you felt. Talk about consequences. Sharing our own experiences makes us human. Our children feel like we really do understand what they are going through, because we have been there ourselves. Plus, it is easy for children to see their parents as perfect. Perfection is tricky. It is impossible to live up to because it is not possible. 
  • Encourage them to take responsibility. Don't pass the buck.
It is important to teach our children to take responsibility for the things they do wrong. We don't want them to grow up blaming everything on the "other kid". 
  • Stick with the consequences. Don't be a push over.  
Some mistakes have natural consequences. (Like not studying for a test. You most likely get a bad grade.) Then there are other mistakes where we as parents will have to follow through and enforce a consequence. Be sure that the time fits the crime, and enforce the consequence.  
  • Avoid pointing out their past mistakes. Focus on the moment.
It is not our job to continually point out what our kids have done wrong. For the most part, with most mistakes, we can let the bygones by bygones. If we continually bring up past mistakes, our kids will never feel like they can get out from under what they have done wrong. It can begin to define them. We don't want that. And...why would they want to do better, if they think we will just point out the mistakes they have made in the past? 

  • Praise them for their ability to admit their mistakes. Say thank you.
We want our children to feel comfortable telling us when they have made a mistake, and admit if they have done wrong. It is appropriate for us to thank them for being honest and admitting what they have done.  
  • Teach children what to do when they make a mistake. How do you right the wrong?
Do they need to apologize, clean up, fix, or replace. Teaching kids what to do when they do wrong will give them the tools they need to handle future mistakes.  
  • Help them find the silver lining. What can be learned?  
Turn each mistake into a learning opportunity. 
  • Evaluate. How do we handle our mistakes. Are we setting a good example?
Take a minute and evaluate how we handle our own mistakes. Do we swear, yell, sulk?  Do we blame them on everyone else? Remember, kids will, for the most part, do what their parents do. We are teaching them by example. What type of example are we setting?
  • Keep a sense of humor. Laughter is good medicine. 
Mistakes are a part of life. We need to be patient and understanding with our children. We are here to help teach them so that they will want to make good choices. When mistakes happen, we are here to help them understand and work through the bad choice. These are life skills that when learned young, will help forever. 



  1. This was really insightful. Thank you.

  2. Your posts are so good. Everything you say is so common-sensical but it still seems like you're a genius with every parenting post you write. Thank you for the tips! I am guilty of the occasional scoff and sigh (my son is a bed wetter, poor kid) but I'm going to stop NOW. I feel awful about it, reading in this post, what it does to him. I feel like I'm pretty good at saying "thank you" when they admit a mistake. I'm not great at appropriate consequences for a mistake, but I'm learning.

  3. Thank you for this post. I'm going to stop the scoffs/sighing too. :/ I think I sometimes forget that my children don't have the same knowledge and experience I do. Thanks for the great information and suggestions. :)

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