PERMISSION TO MAKE MISTAKES – How do I feel when I make a mistake and what messages do I give my children when they make mistakes.
What was the message given to us when we made mistakes as children? Were mistakes an opportunity to learn and grow or did we internalize ourselves as a mistake. If care givers had a tough inner critic that didn’t allow them compassion when they made a mistake then they may have passed this message on to their children. Making mistakes are part of being human. There are times we all stumble in life and if we deny ourselves compassion we then negate a part of our humanness. In essence, can we make a mistake or do we internalize ourselves as a mistake. Can we fail at times or do we internalize ourselves as a failure.
Without self-compassion it becomes difficult to except constructive criticism from others. We may begin lying when we are wrong as the pain of being seen as defective becomes overwhelming. Part of being a parent is guiding our children through their difficulties with the experiences we have gained in life. As they walk through their journey in life they also need to feel that mistakes are part of being human. If not they may refuse to allow us to help them if they should falter.
Permission to make a mistake from the book, “The Problem Was Me”. One of my children had a bed-wetting problem that caused him shame every time he had an accident. Once when dining out with my family years ago, I had an experience that most men can relate to. After a trip to the men’s room, I zipped up my fly but not before a few drops dripped onto my pants. When I returned to the table, I quietly pointed out the spot to my son and said, “See, even Dad has accidents.” He thought this was great. He believed I urinated in my pants. You could read his mind and see the way this made him feel more human for his mistakes. The downside was that he proceeded to tell the world about my experience! I did not count on this, but I did give him the message that it’s okay to make mistakes.
No matter what happens during the course of a day, don’t forget to tell your children you love them before they go to sleep. The message of unconditional love will give them the permission to make mistakes without them ever believing they are a mistake.