Concerning Kids – Why should children always be perfect?
Oh yes, I am a grown-up. But, I still suffer from decision-making struggles and mistakes that I make. If mistake-making were an art medium, I would be a Picasso. However, I tend to be strict with kids when they make mistakes. Why does it happen?
We fight imperfection in any way we can. Many of us struggle with perfectionism regarding ourselves and our kids. That is why, in raising children, we often find ourselves navigating the delicate balance between protecting kids and allowing them the freedom to make mistakes.
We have a strong instinct to protect kids from failure. However, it’s essential to recognise that making mistakes is fundamental to a child’s development.
Kids often learn art, music, etc. Growth and creativity are only possible in a safe place where mistakes are vital to growth. Children learn from us how to react when making a mistake. They can either learn from it or suffer and feel miserable.
When I studied in school, submitting a handwritten homework assignment was not enough. The assignment had to be without any typos. Even when I made a mistake and corrected it myself, my assignment could have been considered better. Therefore, teachers taught me to tear out a page and to rewrite the assignment again. That fear of mistakes has influenced me greatly.
Now, when working with kids, I encourage them to write. And I want them to learn to embrace their mistakes and treat them lightly. Fear is their enemy when they learn to do anything new because nobody can do anything perfectly from the first shot.
Once, I was at the birthday party of a 6-year-old. The kid was so overexcited to receive the gifts that she clumsily put the gift at the dinner table and accidentally pushed the mug from the table. It broke. I immediately looked at her mom’s reaction. Victoria looked at her daughter and gently said: “It is okay; it is just a thing. We will buy another one.”
I was pleasantly shocked. This child is raised in a family where a mistake is not considered a tragedy. Surely, the girl has the freedom to explore, try something new, fall, and get up again.
Mistakes are not just an inevitable part of life; they are valuable growth opportunities. Allowing children to experience and learn from setbacks instils resilience—a crucial life skill. When kids face challenges, make errors and encounter failure, they develop the ability to bounce back, adapt, and persevere.
I had to change my thinking when I discovered my fear of mistakes. My new rule is “If I learned from the mistake, then it wasn’t a mistake; it was a lesson.”
In a society that often emphasises perfection, it’s essential to recognise that making mistakes is not only expected but also beneficial. May our kids grow in a safe environment and make mistakes in their growth journey.
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