Jack Canfied's recent article in the Huffington Post reminded me of a recent post I submitted on words and actions and how they affect children. All too often I hear parents berating their kids for the smallest infraction. They forget that they are only children and are bound to make mistakes, as are we all.
I can provide example after example of what I hear and see almost every day. Too commonly, I'll see a kid playing with a cell phone. He presses buttons, as any curious child will do, and the phone slips out of his hands to the floor. His mother screams at him and tells him he broke the phone, even when that is not the case. The child feels terrible and will be afraid to press any more buttons on anything in the future. What happens? The child becomes afraid to venture into anything new or do anything which might get him in trouble again.
Sometimes, parents will make their kids feel clumsy or stupid for reasons that are insignificant. They don't seem to realize that kids need to learn by trial and error, and if they fail or accidentally destroy an object in doing so, that is a part of learning. How many times have we been wrong or broken an object even in our adult life? I know I have, but I learned from it. And no one was around to tell me what an idiot I was, and no one tried to make me feel dumb.
So why do we assume kids have to be perfect? And why do we think they can do everything right the first time? I feel sorry for many of the kids I see on a daily basis. Their parents don't understand that they are setting them up for failure by not allowing them the opportunity to fail.
We need to remember what Jack said, "We are raising children, not flowers." We need to cut children a little slack, and while we are at it, we should extend the same courtesy to those around us and even to ourselves. After all, how much can we accomplish when we are constantly being put down for our mistakes. It is always better to try and fail then not to try at all. Nothing gets accomplished by being afraid to act. Too many children and adults are scared of even trying because, at the time they were most eager, someone crushed their spirit.
When your child drops a carton of orange juice or knocks over a lamp in excitement, try to remember how thrilled you were the first time she rolled over or crawled, and how amazed you were when she let go of the chair and took her initial steps into independence. You didn't yell at her for falling but you praised her for trying and you encouraged her to try again.
We should always encourage our children to try again and again no matter how often they fail. If no one ever points out to them that they failed, they won't know or care. They will keep trying until they get it right. Kids don't know the word "fail." We, as parents, introduce the word to their vocabulary.