January's Tool Card*:
"Mistakes" is such a good topic because I have plenty of experience with the it! I will say, though, that the more deeply connected I become to Positive Discipline, the less fearful I am of making mistakes. I grew up with a huge perfectionist streak that didn't allow room for being okay with making mistakes. If I made one, it was quickly fixed or covered up. And God forbid anyone find out about it! There was a lot of shame associated with mistakes, which is why it's so strange now that I enjoy my mistakes and share them widely. I try my very best to squeeze every possible lesson from the mistakes I make. I think we should skip all the angst around mistakes and go straight to the joy of them, and Jane Nelsen has some pretty cool ideas about how to do that:
See Mistakes as opportunties for learning.
1. Respond to mistakes with compassion and kindness instead of shame, blame, or lectures.
The indoor-only cat escapes out the front door when your first-grader forgets to close it. When the cat is retrieved and safely inside again (and everyone has calmed down), it's a good time to chat about what happened and how everyone is feeling. "Whew! That sure scared me. How about you? What do you think we can do so Nutmeg doesn't get out again?" No scolding, no heavy sighs. It was a mistake, and anyone can make it, and we'll put a remedy in place. The end. Or maybe not. It could happen again.
2. When appropriate, use curiosity questions to help your child "explore" the consequences of her mistakes.
One of my favorites with Ben is, "What could happen if you leave your full glass of milk at the edge of the table like that?" He can immediately picture and remember the many times an errant elbow has brushed that glass of milk off the table and onto the floor. Big mess, big clean-up. And he quickly moves the glass.
3. During dinner time invite everyone to share a mistake they made during the day and what they learned from it.
I think most of us want our kids to be "life-long learners" and we probably don't limit that to formal book-learning. Life experiences are rich with lessons for us. Taking a moment or two each day to reflect on the wisdom that day had to offer is a really nice ritual to establish. Children seem to find it especially meaningful to hear their parents make mistakes, too, and can learn something from them. And goodness knows, we will certainly benefit too!
*Positive Discipline Parenting Tools
52 cards to improve your parenting skills
by Jane Nelsen and Adrian Garsia