Here’s an important Best Life Lesson for us and for our children: Mistakes and failures are really just learning opportunities and the chance to do better the next time! In fact, making mistakes and having failures is absolutely necessary to creating and living our best lives!!
We all make mistakes. We all have failures and so do our children. In fact, that’s what childhood is all about in some ways!
But it’s how we look at our mistakes and failures, and how our children look at theirs that makes all of the difference. How we look at them, and how we teach our children to look at them will help shape (or not) their best lives.
The truth is that mistakes and failures are just learning opportunities and the chance to do better the next time. A mistake is only ‘negative’ if you don’t learn anything from it and/or keep making the same mistake over and over again (hence not learning from it!!).
The truth also is that you simply can’t be successful in life and can’t create and live your best life possible if you don’t embrace mistakes and failures and have a mindset that they aren’t always ‘bad’.
The most successful people throughout history have also been the people who’ve made the most mistakes. You can’t be ‘successful’ without taking chances, trying new things, overcoming mistakes and failures because you believe in yourself and what you’re doing and still have the confidence to try and try again, and yes, sometimes, fail and fail again.
Unfortunately, we seems to be raising a generation of children afraid to fail, afraid to even make the slightest mistake. There are all sorts of reasons for this (entitlement, competition, obsession with college choice, grades, etc.) but the reason for this isn’t what this article is about.
This article is about teaching you and your children how to change your mindset, to shape your thoughts, so that you’re not afraid to take chances, get messy, or make mistakes (as Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Busalways said!). You and your children will be happier and so much more for it!!
Be sure to watch the video and/or read the full transcript below to learn how to shape your thoughts and mindset and be happier & more grateful in the process!
All the best,
Cheri Fogarty here, Founder of Creating My Best Life & Habit Gratitude For Kids where we show you how to get happier and more grateful children and to be happier and more grateful yourself!
And I have a question for you; how would your children complete this sentence:
“Mistakes and failure are . . . .”
How would you complete that sentence?
Let me tell you what my kids would say. If I said, “mistakes and failure are” they would say, “learning opportunities and the chance to do better the next time.”
So where did they come up with that? Well, I’ve been teaching them for years. It’s one of the best life lessons I’ve been teaching them since they could talk and it’s something that’s really helped them in their lives and it’s something that I want to teach you how to teach your children today and to remember yourself.
So why is this important? These days kids seem more stressed, more overwhelmed than ever before. There are many more pressures on them and they put a lot of pressure on themselves, in large part, because they’re afraid of making mistakes, because they’re afraid of failing.
Listen, nobody likes to make mistakes or fail, it’s human nature. Nobody likes it! I hate to make mistakes or feel like a failure. But I don’t anymore because of these lessons I’ve learned and that’s what I want to share with you today.
So, if you ask any successful person, from time eternal, throughout history, if they’ve made a lot of mistakes and had a lot of failures, they would say absolutely and probably tell you that they’ve made more than anyone else.
And you know what they would also tell you, that they learned far more from the mistakes and failures that they made, than they ever did from their successes. And in fact, they would probably tell you that those mistakes they made helped propel them to their ultimate success.
Because here’s the thing, you can’t be successful in whatever it is and however you define success, if you don’t takes risks, if you don’t take chances, if you don’t try new things. All of which you will be afraid to do, your children will be afraid to do, if you’re afraid of failing or making mistakes.
So, there’s a lot more to it than this, entire books have been written on the subject, but what I want to do today is to give you and your children two easy strategies that you can start using today to start shaping your thoughts (and helping your children shape theirs) and their mindset so that they finish the sentence eventually, “mistakes and failures are just opportunities to learn and to do better the next time.”
So how are we going to do that. Okay, the first strategy is this:
Every time over the next few days, weeks, forever, that your children make a mistake, they spill the milk, or whatever it may be; forget to do their homework or even get a bad grade on a test, or whatever it is that they do, you stop or stop whatever your normal response to the mistake would be, and you say to them, “you made a mistake, okay, now here’s what we do when we make a mistake: We apologize when we make a mistake, if it was something intentional, you apologize and you make amends, you make it better and what did you learn from this so that you’ll be able to do better the next time?”
There’s a story Jack Canfield has told for years, in various places and books, about a very famous scientist who attributes his success as a scientist in large part from an incident that happened when he was very young with his mother.
He spilled milk on the floor, all over the floor apparently, and instead of his mother yelling and getting angry and making him feel badly for spilling the milk, she said something like this, “oh, look at this, look at how the milk spread and look at the patterns it created” and they studied and analyzed it for a little while and then she said, “ok, let’s clean it up now.”
And he says that that one incident at a young point in his life, changed his life, gave him the freedom to fail, gave him the freedom to become the scientist that he did, because he wasn’t afraid to fail and he wasn’t afraid to make a mistake. He knew from a very young age that it wasn’t the end of the world to make a mistake or fail at something, that’s it okay to make mistakes and that we all make mistakes.
So isn’t that a gift we would all love to give our children.
So whether it’s when they’re very young and the tower falls down. You know that look that they get when they’re about to burst into tears, because the tower that they’ve worked so hard on, their very first tower fell down.
Here is where you have a choice as a parent. You have a choice.You can either hug them and let them cry and tell them that it’s okay, or you can do what I did with all of my kids, you can clap and you can cheer and you can say, “yeah, look at that, you built a great tower and it fell down and now you get to have fun and build it again.” And instead of tear, you get laughter and enthusiasm and a priceless best life lesson that will serve them throughout their lives. One moment, like the milk, can change everything!
Now, not everyone agrees with that, but I will tell you that it has worked time and time again with my children, and in fact, when my youngest of four, who is very sensitive, when she built her first tower, and it fell down, her three older sister who happened to be nearby, the best thing that could have happened, even before I started clapping and cheering as she was clearly about to burst into tears, her sisters started clapping and cheering for her and saying, “that’s okay, isn’t that great!”
And then Alex, who was about one at the time and who could barely talk,they talked her through how she could rebuild her tower, and maybe do it a little differently so it wouldn’t fall down as fast and really worked with her on it.
For me, as a mom, it was such an amazing moment because I knew they had learned this important lesson and that they would all carry it with them throughout their lives, which they have.
But of course you still have to keep learning the lesson, because towers are one thing, failing a test in school or not doing well, is another. So these strategies are super important to learn and to practice.
It’s really important to teach your children now, at whatever age they are, so that they won’t be afraid to make mistakes as they get older.
So over the next few weeks, whether you have a teenager or you have a two year old, when they make a mistake as them what they learned from it and how they can do better the next time.
And if it’s something that’s intentional or something they need to apologize for, those are the steps:
You apologize if appropriate
You make amends, you ‘clean up the spilled milk’
And you ask the question, how can you do better the next time / what did you learn from this
Now, I’m not saying that in that moment your teenager or your two year old for that matter is going to want to listen to that or maybe that can’t come up with anything that they learned. Wait a little while. Ask them again.
Do this every time they make a mistake or have a perceived (or real) failure in school or in sports or whatever.
Do it time and time again until they can answer the question, “what did you learn from that?”
And that they finish the sentence, “mistakes and failure are learning opportunities and the chance to do better the next time.”
The second one is that once you’ve shifted your mindset because you want your thoughts, words, and actions to be in line so you’ve helped your children shift their thoughts with regard to how they view mistakes and failures and their words so that they don’t view them as terrible things or things to be afraid of and to be avoided at all costs. But rather to view them as something to learn from, that they’re okay, that everyone makes them, makes mistakes. Once they’ve changed their mindset, you can go even further and since we tie everything in to gratitude, you can actually start being grateful for those mistakes.
It doesn’t mean you have to love those mistakes or embrace them. It doesn’t even mean you have to like them. It’s just like when I had breast cancer, I didn’t love having breast cancer. In fact, it was a pretty miserable experience. But, I am eternally grateful for having had the experience because it literally changed my life, truly changed my life, and I”m a thousand times happier because of it. So I’m grateful for the experience while I may not have liked the experience itself.
Children don’t have to like their mistakes and failures. But if they can change their mindset and look at them as something to learn from and an opportunity and then to be grateful for that opportunity, it changes everything. It changes everything.
So, those are basically the two tips. I’ve talked a little longer than usual because I just think it’s so important and it really, truly does affect, as it did for the scientist, it affects their life.
If they’re not afraid to take risks, or like in The Magic School Bus, Ms. Firzzle used to say, “ Take chances, make mistakes, get messy, “ or whatever it was.
My kids loved hearing that because they would say, “mommy, that’s what you always say!”
And it’s true. and we have to remember as parents because so many people, whether coaches or teachers or friends or whatever out there is wanting to make them feel badly when they make a mistake or have a failure. So we have to explain this to them. It’s our job as parents to teach this to them and to remember ourselves and a great way is to model it.
The next time you make a mistake, and I do this all the time, and my kids love catching me make a mistake, point it out and say, “oops I made a mistake.” Then apologize or whatever is appropriate, model it, “maybe I could be more patient next time” showing what you learned from it.
These are great lessons that can truly help your children not only now be happier and less stressed but for an entire lifetime. It will help them reach their goals and full potential because they won’t be afraid to follow their dreams because they’re afraid to fail.
They won’t be afraid to follow their passions in life, because they’re afraid they might make a mistake.
So that’s it! As always, thank you so much for being here.
In the comments below I would love to hear what you think of the two strategies for embracing mistakes and failures. And be sure to come back and let us know after you try this with your children how it goes and share any tips or ideas you have for implementing the strategies that are working in your busy home!!
I just want to leave you with this, as always: Remember we can have happier and more grateful children. We can be happier and more grateful ourselves. And we can and we are changing the world, one child and one family at a time.
Thanks so much for being here and I can’t wait to hear how you put this tip into action. I’ll see you next time!
p.s. We will be launching our brand new program called The Habit Gratitude Blueprint in the next few weeks. It’s a super simple and fun, step-by-step system for creating the habit of gratitude in your busy family in just 21 days!
We are only going to open 100 spots (with a special VIP bonus and access for the 100) so be sure to get on the early bird list now to save your spot!! Learn more: http://www.habitgratitudeblueprint.com