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After working with children and parents for nearly 20 years, there is a common belief about mistakes that they are bad. When we think they are bad, we feel like bad people for making them. What if we begin to look at mistakes as something good?
When was the last time you made a mistake and thought, “YES! INNOVATION TIME!?”
Well, if you’re like, probably never. It’s probably something you HATE making, so instead of taking this as an opportunity to lean in and listen, you most likely try to rush through the process to get back to feeling “good and happy.” But what if we began to see mistakes as good things? As opportunities to learn, not as vulnerabilities to be shamed.
Now, I get it. Being scared to make mistakes is a very primal belief. Many centuries ago, before modern technologies and innovations- mistakes could mean you were killed. So, we grew into a society that believes that to stay connected, we must hide our mistakes and only show the pretty parts.
I often see this on social media. I, too, am guilty of it. I know that it doesn’t come naturally to me to show up in a moment of vulnerability and make a mistake publicly. It is difficult. BUT! When we do, true magic happens. We begin to connect on a deeper level. It becomes like a superpower. Instead of fearing the mistakes, we look to learn and improve from them!
I like to think about mistakes as potholes in the road. I live in downtown Richmond, and I come across many potholes. So the first time I hit one, I might be surprised! “WOW! What was that?!” And I take note of where it is on the road. The next time I’m driving in that same spot, I begin to become hyper-sensitive to the memory of the pothole and will work to avoid it. But here’s the thing, it doesn’t truly get fixed, until it gets filled.
We can avoid it all we want- driving over it, around it, even taking alternate routes- but the pothole will persist until someone takes the time to investigate it, clean it, and patch it. This is the same for the mistakes in our life- we must become aware, slow down, and work to learn from them- not just work to avoid them.
So let’s take this mindset belief to the three most common mistakes I see MOST great parents make while raising their strong-willed children. We’re going to use this opportunity to become aware of a possible relationship pothole that we need to investigate and learn from- this is not a time to feel shame and yell at yourself!
They have a solution for all the problems, and they always have an answer! They might say things like, “I will help you.” No struggle or discomfort shall be felt by their child! Why do parents do this? Well, it’s easy- they love their children.
They believe that a happy child will behave.
But what really happens is that the child starts to learn that only happiness is acceptable. Because they have no practice feeling uncomfortable or problem-solving through their own struggles- those big feelings become scary. And they start to think…
“I am not capable.” Children with parents who fix and solve all the problems learn quickly to outsource all the struggle to someone else.
So what can parents do to learn from this mistake? They can learn to hold boundaries, they can begin to follow through on natural consequences, and they can start to empower and build resilience skills in their children.
These are the parents who make all the decisions for their children. They say things like, “Because I said so.” There is no space for negotiation or pushback- because it’s their hammer that controls the house. Why do parents make this mistake? Again- it’s because they love their children.
They believe that an obedient child will behave.
But what is really happening is that their child learns that only submission is acceptable. And to get what you want, you must use force and control.
With no sense of cooperation and collaboration- the child in this household may start to believe “I do not belong.” They may want something different, but with no space to share- they start to rebel against it.
So how can a parent who is making this mistake learn from it? They can start to hold space and allow mistakes to happen, they can practice focusing on connection, and they can build trust. Truly knowing that a relationship is a two-way street!
They read all the books, listen to all the podcasts, and try to make everything work on their own. They do this because they love their children.
They believe that being a parent should come naturally to them. It’s just something that is something everyone is born knowing.
But what might be happening is they might begin to feel like a failure. They can’t control their children like the other parents they see. Their children don’t listen to them like the other families they see. And they can’t seem to get the strategies and tips to work for them in their home. They KNOW all the things, but it’s still not working.
They start to think, “What’s wrong with me?”
But it’s not them. Being a parent is something that is practiced, not a given. So, what parents can learn from this mistake is to ask for help, gain new tools, and get a community that can support them!
So there you have it- the three most common mistakes I see most GREAT parents make! I even shared some ways to start reflecting on these mistakes- so you can begin to look to these moments as opportunities to learn! And when we do this work- it makes it possible for your children to do this work as well!
If you’re looking to start your Positive Parenting Journey, the Understanding Us series is a great way to do just that!
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