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Are mistakes needed for learning?

Making mistakes can lead to children experiencing feelings of guilt, shame, and embarrassment which, in turn, can create an underlying belief system of unworthiness – destroying self-esteem and self-confidence.

As educators, we have many opportunities to teach children how to manage mistakes so they can learn how to take responsibility for them, learn from them, and let them go, thus, turning those negative belief systems into empowering ones.

The following are some simple steps we can all use to support and teach our children how to have a positive mindset.

  1. Saying, “It was me. I did it.” And saying these words out makes the child accountable for their actions. Children need to learn to take responsibility for their own mistakes and not to blame others or make excuses.

2. Saying, “I’m sorry.” Children need to learn to apologise directly to the person the mistake they made has impacted. This helps both children with self-forgiveness.

3. “I can fix this.” We need to teach children how to fix their own mistakes. If they break something, they may be able to replace it, if they took something from someone, they need to give it back. We need to teach them that most of the time mistakes are fixable.

4. “I learnt from my mistake.” Children understand they can learn from their mistakes if we talk them through it. This experience becomes an opportunity for growth instead of a reason for self-sabotage.

5. “Letting it all go.” Children need to learn how to breathe and let it all go once they have acknowledged and (tried) to fix their mistakes. This is the most important step because it enables them to release the negative energy, focus on the positive (the lesson), and move forward empowered.

Mistakes are essential for learning. They are necessary. Teaching our children how to manage their mistakes and then how to let go of them, once dealt with, is one of the greatest gifts we can give them. They will learn responsibility, compassion, resilience. They will become self-confident instead of feeling internal self-doubt. The negatives become positives. This gives them a clear mind, stress factors are alleviated which leads to greater learning and a positive mindset.

 

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