Over the past few weeks we have been talking a lot about providing space for our kids to make mistakes and to even learn from them. Now I don’t know about you, but as a parent of three I make A LOT of mistakes of my own (forgot about soccer practice anyone?). If you are anything like me, you might let those mistakes eat away at you, let guilt take over, and immediately start panicking that you are ruining your children’s lives.
The reality is that we all make mistakes. Sometimes we yell when we wish we had taken a deep breath and asked a question. Sometimes we blame the wrong kid for tracking mud through the house and sometimes we just don’t live up to our own expectations as a parent. So what can we do when we make a mistake? Is it possible to turn our errors into teaching moments? Is it even possible to use our slip-ups as a way to better connect with our children? Absolutely! One of our most useful tools as a parent is teaching through modeling. Here are some ways I am working on making the best of my imperfect moments:
Don’t Be Afraid to Say “I’m Sorry”
A great way to show our children how valuable they are is by showing them they are worthy of our apologies. It can be so powerful for a child to hear their parent say, “I am sorry for___. I wasn’t being very kind. I wish I would have___. You deserve for me to try harder, and I am working on that.” Not only are you modeling how to take responsibility for your mistakes, but you are also demonstrating that making mistakes is ok and it can be an opportunity to do better next time.
Use the Opportunity for Self-Reflection
You can also use your mistakes as an opportunity to notice your triggers. Potty-humor gets me almost every time. While my partner can join in on the laughter about poop jokes, I have a harder time with it. I get frustrated and want to lecture my children about respect and acceptable table talk. So when I feel myself getting heated, I take a deep breath, roll my eyes, and walk away. Every now and then I like to shock them with a potty-humor joke of my own and their roll-on-the-floor-belly-laughs are worth way more than any lesson on etiquette that I could have taught.
Chose Connection over Being Right
This one can be challenging. The truth is my child should have used his words with his sister. So apologizing for raising my voice when he shoved her takes a lot of effort. However, choosing to connect with our kids over the opportunity to be “right” sets us up to have a space to teach skills later on. When we choose the relationship over correction, we are creating an environment for our children where they are more likely to hear and respond to our expectations.
Take It Easy On Yourself
Don’t forget to cut yourself some slack. Remember that while being a parent does require some super-hero powers, you are in fact a mere mortal. Mistakes happen and will happen again. You are doing your best, and just doing your best can produce amazing results.
Image: © Hugo Felix | Dreamstime.com