We all make them. We are also super good at pointing out other's
mistakes; however, how often do we point out our own mistakes?
Honestly, not often, and especially not often enough in front of
our children. We have set such high expectations for our children
that sometimes it is just pretty darn hard to live up to them.
Clearly a 6 year old isn't always going to act like a 35 year old
we expect them to.
Our children need to learn that we make mistakes too. When your
child comes home from school with an "I got busted" note - you need
to address that. However you should also share a time that you got
"busted" too. These are such precious learning moments. Here is
where we can share the line, "You aren't a bad person. You just
made a bad choice."
Some of our children struggle with wanting to be perfect. How do
you know if this is your child? Sometimes it is obvious externally.
For example, you can see it in their writing as some constantly
erase and correct their letter formation (usually girls). Others
are more internal when trying to be perfect. Some parents will say
that they never have to punish one of their children for doing
something wrong - the child does it on their own. An example might
be that they come up with their own toy to lose, or you can see it
in their face and their demeanor that they are truly struggling
with making a bad choice internally. These children definitely need
examples of imperfection in their world.
If you make a mistake during the day - like you go to the wrong
place for a meeting, forget completely about an appointment, or
just make a bad choice sometime during the day - highlight this
with your child. When you pick them up from school, instead of
asking 20 questions like we normally do, start with "Guess what I
did today…" And then launch into your debacle of the day. You will
get laughter, real laughter and real compassion.
Highlighting your own mistakes will also help you gauge how your
children see you handling their mistakes. Their reactions and or
questions might closely mirror your reactions. This might be good
to see or challenging. Either way, you should know.
It can be fun to ask kids the following questions: What happens if
you make a mistake? What happens if mommy makes a mistake? What
does Daddy say when you make a mistake? What happens when you spill
your drink at the table? These questions might help you realize
just how important it is for our children to know we are human and
how often we make mistakes ourselves.
"Dad, can I play on your iPhone?" How many times have we heard
this? Today, it's a huge challenge to get kids to handle a 5-minute
drive anywhere without an electronic device in hand.
Let's be honest, quiet kids make for a much more pleasant drive
anywhere! But there are actually times when we as parents would
like to have a conversation with our children. So where is the
balance? What do you do when you want to say "no" to the
electronics, but seriously want to avoid the attitude from your
child that comes with that denial of entertainment?
Well, you can't just say "stop" to a behavior, without providing
an alternative choice for your child. If you just say "no" to the
iPhone request, you can't expect your child to happily agree and
say, "You're right mom, I have been playing a lot of games lately.
Is there any way I can help you today?"
Instead, you can offer up other choices. I refer to this as
Replacement Behavior. For example, if your child needs something in
their hands to prevent, say, sibling brawling in the 3rd row, you
might hand them one of those mini containers of Play-Doh (you know
the ones that you get in every goody bag and never know when you
would possibly use it), and say, "Let's have a 'Guess What I Made'
contest. You have one minute to make something and then show us
what you have made." You might end up being amazed at the
creativity that arises from what they create, as well as what they
talk about while they are making a mini masterpiece.
Another possible idea is to play "Name that Tune." Put on their
favorite station, or iPod playlist, and play only a few seconds of
each song, and have them name the song and tell you why they like
If you are a parent of a toddler, and this is way above the realm
of your child's ability, and a tantrum ensues, remember: turn up
your music, open the windows and drive a little faster. The rush of
air on their cute faces will make the screaming stop, and you'll be
listening to your favorite music.
Until next time…stay groovy and keep being a great parent!
Real Parenting Tune Ups: Addressing Mistakes
Real Parenting Tune Ups: Practicing Replacement Behavior
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