Have you ever made an embarrassing mistake that made you feel a little foolish? If the answer is yes, then congratulations—you’re as human as everyone else!

We all do things from time to time that make us feel less than adequate; it’s just part of being alive. How we handle the situation is what determines if we let it bring us down or use it as a way to grow wiser and stronger.

When we make mistakes, we tend to tell ourselves things like: “how could I be so stupid” or “why do these things always happen to me.” But that doesn’t mean we have to listen to these thoughts! Respond to yourself with statements like, “I’m smarter now because of this” or “now that I know what the better choice is, I won’t make that mistake again.” Always give yourself permission to learn and grow from mistakes rather than beat yourself up over them.

If others say hurtful or unkind things about your mistakes, just remember they are no better than you, and their attempts to make you feel bad could very well be a reflection of their own insecurities. And finally, when you see others feeling bad about themselves, offer the same support you’d like to receive if you were in their shoes.

Parents: 

Let Them Make Mistakes!

As parents, we want the best for our children and hope that we’re successful in our mission of raising them to be happy and decent people when they grow up.

An important part of our role is to help teach them how to interact with others and with the world to achieve these goals. As the famed pediatrician and psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott proposes, we do not have to be perfect parents, only “Good Enough.”

It is important as a parent to have our own lives and to allow our children to have their own lives, too.

Sometimes this is easy to do—other times, this can be quite difficult. Allowing our children to make mistakes can be very challenging as a parent, yet it is necessary for their healthy development. It’s only natural for us to try to correct them, to save them, when they are experiencing a difficult time.     

However, it may be helpful to reframe the situation in a way that allows us to step back and give the child an opportunity to learn an important lesson that they may not otherwise have learned from the situation. It may be better for the child to learn while they are younger—when the consequences of their actions are less severe—than delaying that learning opportunity until they are out on their own as an adult, when the consequences may be more damaging. As mentioned in the child’s article, help the child learn from the experience and become a better human being because of it.