Making mistakes

By Angela Legh

September 19, 2022


The Parent’s Promise is an ancillary part of my children’s book series, The Bella Santini Chronicles. However, the promise is a pillar in the work that I do. Today we will review line three of ‘The Parent’s Promise’

I will remind you that you are worthwhile when you made mistakes…

Teach your children that mistakes are a part of their journey. Teaching them that mistakes are a necessary step towards achieving their goals is an important part of raising a resilient child.

The elementary school model of this is right, and any other way is wrong, is detrimental. Most issues children will face as adults will have multiple ways of approaching the problem, with several ways to achieve the goal.

The Old School Model

My husband, Richard Kaye relates a story in which he completed a high school math quiz by writing only the answers, not showing the work. His teacher gave him a failing grade. He complained, saying that he knew the answers in his head. He didn’t need to go through the steps to show his work. He then proceeded to prove it by having his teacher give him problems, which he then solved in his head. Because of the right/wrong school model, his way of solving the problems was unacceptable. Whether he got the problems right or not, The teacher considered his way of doing it wrong. I will celebrate the day when schools accept that there are many ways to achieve the right answer. I hope to see a day when children will be allowed to work on problems in ways that make sense to them.

Mistakes as information

But I digress – this post is supposed to be about mistakes, not school reform. One of my favorite quotes about failure is from Edison. A journalist asked about the many times his experiments failed. Thomas Edison was quoted as saying it only took him 10,000 steps to invent a lightbulb. He was able to see the value of each failed attempt – to learn what to do differently next time. Each failure, each mistake, brought him one step closer to achieving his desired result.

Somehow, self-recrimination has become the answer to mistakes. If I beat myself up enough, I might not do it again. This approach undermines your self-worth. Self-recrimination keeps you from discovering the value of trying, as well as the value of persistence.

What if…

What if we taught our children that each failure is a milestone on their journey? What if we encourage them to review their past attempts, find one thing to change, and try again? What if we can celebrate our failures rather than punish?

(When I posted this on LinkedIn, I accidentally typed in Albert Einstein instead of Thomas Edison! How perfect was it for me to make a big mistake when publically posting about accepting ourselves when we make mistakes!!!)

The Parent's Promise - unconditional love and support for your child
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