Spring is a time for renewal. A time to begin again. A time to start over.

We are in unprecedented times where uncertainty is a daily feeling. We are worried about our health. We are worried about our livelihood. We are worried about toilet paper. We are worried about EVERYTHING! As more and more parents are working remotely from home, our frustrations and fear end up being projected onto our children: how dare they whine about not seeing their friends; shame on them for not knowing how to entertain themselves without devices, while you sit in front of yours all day. The “rules” have changed; for all of us!

So many times parents (and teachers) don’t want to let their faults/foibles show. How dare we look less than human. But this mindset is damaging, not only to ourselves but to our children and the people we love.

There is an increasing amount of pressure on kids to perform at a level of excellence; they must be involved in numerous extra-curricular activities, score high on standardized tests, perform community service and volunteer work for college acceptance, make honor roll to get scholarships, act “perfect” during a national crisis, and the list goes on. Anxiety and depression is at an all-time high in children and research shows it’s not abating.

As adults we tend to, for the most part, forgive ourselves when we make an error. We chalk it up to a bad day, being tired or hungry, or whatever the case may be. Why are we less inclined to let things slide when our kids have not made good choices? Do we feel it’s our duty/job as parents to teach them right from wrong? Are we afraid of the consequence their mistake may have on them or on the family? Do we want to keep them protected and safe from all the evils of the world? YES!

But we must remember that mistakes are a part of growing up and essential for learning:

Mistakes allow children to be creative

Mistakes bring to light problem-solving skills

Mistakes grant kids the freedom to innovate and explore

Mistakes teach responsibility

Mistakes grant trust

Mistakes reveal intrinsic motivation and success

Mistakes recognize self-awareness

Mistakes build resilience

Mistakes foster self-confidence

Mistakes yield discipline

Mistakes uncover reward

You may disagree with these phrases and believe they actually have a negative effect. Like most issues concerning parenting it’s all in the approach. Support your child in the renewal and starting over process by acknowledging that good can bloom from a dark spot.

Do For Your Child:

• Provide guidance, but do not force or pressure.

• Assist your child in setting realistic goals/expectations.

• Provide regular encouragement; not praise.

• Emphasize effort rather than results.

• Be a healthy role model for your child by being positive and relaxed and by having balance in your life.

• Give your child value love. Show your love regardless of the outcome.

• Keep a sense of humor and have fun.

Adapted from Positive Pushing by Jim Taylor, Ph.D

P.S. Look at what evolved from mistakes: penicillin, x-rays, pacemakers, safety glass, Velcro, Post-It Notes, microwave ovens, potato chips and chocolate chip cookies.

Wonderful children books that foster resilience and learning from mistakes:

“Beautiful Oops!” - Barney Saltzberg

“Rosie Revere, Engineer” - Andrea Beaty

“The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes” - Mark Pett

“The Most Magnificent Thing” - Ashley Spires

“What do you do with a Problem?” - Kobi Yamada

“The Book of Mistakes” -Corinna Luyken

“Eraser” - Anna Kang

Stephanie Koclanis, M.S. CORE Coordinator and Quality Improvement Grants Specialist for the YWCA NW IL