It can be hard to let your child make mistakes. As a parent, you are there to protect them from harm while they learn and grow into healthy adults who can protect themselves. It goes against all your instincts therefore to simply stand back and let your child fail. Still, one of the most important skills of parenthood is to learn what mistakes are harmful and should be prevented and what mistakes are, well, not.
Children often learn by doing, just like the rest of us, and a part of that is failing. In adults we call it trial and error. It is important, therefore, to let your child make mistakes, even fail, so they can learn from mistakes. It’s the quickest way for your child to learn to succeed.
When your child is learning and doing, they are bound to make mistakes. This is why mealtimes with your toddler are so messy. They are learning to eat solid food, but it takes some real work to make the necessary skills come together in the right combination to achieve a successful bite of food. The mistakes often litter the eating area by the time your child’s meal is done. These kinds of mistakes are wholly without consequences for your child. No matter how many times they fail, you will ensure that they get enough food to eat. The rest is up to them. Imagine what would happen if you tried to keep your child from failing to take a proper bite forever though.
You would have to feed them yourself forever. Of course that’s if they would let you, curious toddlers are anxious to do these kinds of things for themselves so you might simply end up with a battle royal on your hands. Either way, anyone can see that it is in your child’s best interests for you to allow them to make mistakes while feeding themselves. Not only that, its in your best interests as well. This is the kind of good mistake that you do not need to begrudge your child.
There are times when you should step in to prevent the mistake your child is about to make as well. In these cases, such as when your child reaches to touch a hot stove, the lesson is no doubt valuable, but the consequences of that lesson are too high. You should always be prepared to monitor your child’s behavior and prevent them from making those mistakes that will cause real harm. These are the bad mistakes, as opposed to the ones that irritate, upset, or disappoint your child.
Bad mistakes involve lessons that your child is not ready to learn without the assistance of an intermediary. In the case of the stove, for example, you can help your child learn the lesson without harming themselves by holding their hand near enough to feel the heat and explaining the danger in no uncertain terms. Just remember not to be too cautious when it comes to mistakes, children always learn faster and better when their lessons are hands on in nature.