I had the pleasure of teaching a parenting class for teens a few years back. It’s a wonderful training called: Parent Effectiveness for Resolving Conflict with Your Teen. Since that’s a mouthful, it is affectionately called PERC for short. I only taught one seven-week round of it. Turns out that younger children are really more my forte as far as parenting ed goes. But I’m glad I was trained in it, and I will refresh my memory in about seven years to make sure I’m prepared for my own child’s teen-hood.
Anyway, there is this tenet in PERC that got repeated every week when we sent the weary and frustrated parents home to try on different perspectives and practice new skills. The snippet important enough to repeat for seven weeks straight was this:
“Mistakes are the primary learning tool for humans.”
I have shared this statement over and over–in parenting classes and my personal life. Imagine my delight when this photo popped up in my Facebook feed tonight:
This, my friends, is great advice.
Not being able to “handle” or work through making a mistake is a huge liability. Mistakes are normal! They help us learn! The are the PRIMARY way we learn. Not being able to admit, acknowledge, and learn from a mistake is a BIG problem. It’s everywhere. I see it in the adults that surround me daily. DAILY. I believe this stems in part from the way many of us were parented: punitive, punishment-based responses to what were most likely just run-of-the-mill developmentally appropriate behaviors.
This old pattern in our minds is what gets us. It brings on what Brené Brown would probably call a “shame attack” when we make a mistake. Shame is what has us feel that WE are wrong when we make a mistake, instead of that we merely DID wrong.
When we can work through our own conditioning around mistakes, and heal from the pain and shame that we feel when we err, we will be able to lead children toward more quick resolution. Use this great list above with yourself AND your children. I am hopeful that providing this kind of guidance will create different brains for them: ones that don’t send them down the shame-laden rabbit hole upon error. Ones that allow them space to communicate, repair, and learn when they do wrong.
Imagine how much more calm, happy, resourceful, kind, and productive humans could be?