September 29, 2023

Teaching Kids to Learn the Value of Their Mistakes

By Sonya D. Lavett
As the proud mom of two amazing kids, I have to say that every month could qualify as Parent Leadership Month. From the moment I wake up in the morning to the time I close my eyes at night, my children are watching- and learning from- everything I do.

They also notice the things I don’t do.

I never imagined that I would be raising a 15-year-old and an 11-year-old on my own, but that is precisely what I am doing. I often look at each of them and think, “Wow, somehow I’ve managed to do a really good job so far,” but by no means is it ever easy.

My kids challenge me every single day, whether or not they really understand what they’re doing. The questions they ask, the support they seek, and the challenges they present are all part of a much larger picture. Some days it is so easy to fall into the routine of keeping the household and my kids moving in the right direction, and I forget that I am doing something much more important than just trying to get us to our destinations on time.

I’m trying my best to raise two intelligent, compassionate and responsible citizens who will hopefully grow up to make contributions to their communities one day. I hope to raise children of good, solid character.

Trust me, in the day-to-day chaos of trying to get everyone moving and on time for school, this important fact is often overlooked. Sometimes in the heat of battle, the reasons behind what we do are not necessarily the immediate thought. In those moments when things are quiet and the day is over, the why of raising good kids is infinitely clear.

Wise leaders have often said that our children are our future. If we hope for good things in the years to come and we have dreams of making our world a better place, then we need to not only be thinking about our own actions and decision-making, but, more importantly, theirs. As they watch and learn from us, what are we showing them?

I am not a perfect parent. I have and will lose my patience at times. I have and will raise my voice at times. I have lost my cool on multiple occasions and regretted it. My kids are not perfect kids and I don’t expect them to be; however, I do have high expectations for them. I do want them to be responsible and I do expect them to be respectful. That means figuring out when I need to be a little tough on them and when I need to give them a soft place to fall when they make a mistake.

They will make plenty of mistakes in their young lives (hopefully none will prove fatal), but as their mom, it is important to me that they learn something of value from those mistakes. That means not rushing to their side every time they make an error. Kids definitely need the love and support of their parents, but as I watch my children grow, I want them to understand the consequences of their actions because those consequences can transcend into wonderful learning opportunities.

That means that I may not be available to go back home to retrieve their forgotten lunch or homework when they need it. Will it hurt if they miss a meal or lose points on a late assignment? Absolutely, but I also know that this consequence may be just the valuable tool they need to learn better for the next time.

Will they still make mistakes, despite feeling the pain of consequences? Sure, we all do, but if they can take something away from the lesson, I know it will help them as they take on more responsibilities into adulthood.

As parents, it is up to us to set the parameters and expectations for our kids. Allowing them a little freedom to make mistakes and then to learn from those mistakes may be the most effective and compassionate kind of parenting we can offer our children.