Guest Post: Wells Thomas
When Children Make Mistakes
We had all been running around like crazy that day. New (old) house, stuff is everywhere. Chaos is the norm right now. At 8:30PM, I was trying to pull together a random microwave dinner for our family of seven.
I had said “Please come to the table and eat your beans,” but she’d gone to the counter instead.
There she’d found my beans. And now, they were neither on the table nor the counter, but on the floor. Upside down. The dirty kitchen floor.
“What do I do about the spilled beans?” she said.
“Nothing,” I said, disgruntled, “sit down at the table and I will deal with it in a minute.”
Then I think I gave her a lecture about being careful and not wasting food. Face palm. Yeah, I was stressed at the time. But my worldview, my system for dealing, needs to be by default different:
I have to give my children room to make mistakes.
If I react in anger to childish mistakes, they will become afraid to make them, and it will paralyze them. They’ll be indecisive, afraid to do anything. (This is shedding a lot of light on my own upbringing and my own mindset right now, you have no idea.) Let’s face it: I want to be an action-taker. I want my children to be action-takers. Whoooo–deep breath here as I say something I’ve never wanted to say:
Taking action means inevitable failure in some things.
So my profound lesson is this:
And meet it with hope. And grace.
This means not only forbearance on my part, but also that children have to be taught to know what to do after they make a mistake. …What? There’s life after mistakes??? Instead of being shoved aside so mom can–huffily–deal with their problem, they need to be taught how to clean up. Teach them how to take responsibility. Teach them what life looks like after the moment of spilled beans. Teach them the nitty gritty.
What if our home culture became more like this:
- Action takers are applauded
- Mistakes are met with grace
- Children are equipped to deal with their mistakes.
- They are given their results to work through. (With the guidance of a loving parent if they need it.)
Thus they learn skills. They learn that mistakes are just steps that we climb up on the road to success. Thus they learn that failure is not the end of the world. That within the mess is actually–potential for good. And here was my aha moment, deeper and bigger than the aha moment of expect failure.
“Mistakes are not only to be “dealt with,” but to be worked for good.”
If all things in my life are worked together for good by God (Romans 8:28), then it follows that, as a parent, I, being like God, am to work ALL THINGS together for good in our family life. In my children’s lives.
I can do that. I am like God.
Mistakes are to be worked for good.
Incompletes are to be worked for good.
Unforeseens are to be worked for good.
Stressors are to be worked for good.
Lateness, and off-schedule-ness, and lack of sleep:
God works them together for good. And so will I.
What could our life–our minds–look like if we took every failure and found something good to make of it? We are learning philosophy, spirituality, psychology, self-control, theology… lofty, lofty things here in this new old house. Spilled beans are just a conduit.
Join The Discussion: How Do You Respond When Children Make Mistakes?
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