Posted by: coachingparents | December 21, 2009

Is it Okay to Make Mistakes, Really?

by Danielle Koprowski

I had an amazing, terrifying experience today. My son, who will be 6 in one week, ran out in front of a car. Thankfully, he made it across but the incident was terrifying to me and the driver of the car. The situation is mystifying to me as in all of his 6 years he has never ran out like this. I have long since given up holding hands, although we do at times, because he has always been so conscientious, safe, aware and responsive to my direction.

Now for me as a parent coach this is where the rubber meets the road, literally. How do I react to this?

I am proud and happy to say that I kept my cool! I asked him why and quickly understood that it was an error in judgment on his part. I explained to him with great concern how dangerous the situation was, but I also let him know that we all make mistakes, that I understood, that it was okay to make mistakes and how grateful I was that he was okay.

On the drive home I was thinking about what I could do or say that would make sure that he never make that kind of mistake again. This is why we sometimes “freak out” about a situation like this or why people resort to punishment (I must do something to the child that is painful enough to insure he will not do that again). It’s all about trying to control the uncontrollable.

There truly is nothing I can do that will guarantee he never makes that mistake again. And the many things that I could do (yell, scream, try to scare him about it) may strike fear great enough to make it improbable but at what cost? Would it be him going though his life feeling that it is not okay to make a mistake, that he always has to be right? That’s pricey.

I could say to him a million times, “it’s okay to make mistakes”, but if I “freak out” when he does, the message is crystal clear that really, it’s not.

Danielle Koprowski
Free To Be Parenting Support
ACPI Certified Coach for Parents


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