4 Powerful Benefits of Letting Your Child Make Mistakes
November 5, 2019 | by andrew carroll
Parents work tirelessly to provide the best upbringing for their children. While a parent’s intention is not to be overbearing, good intentions can often lead to unhealthy parenting practices. Without realizing it, parents can become overprotective.
What does overprotective parenting do to a child?
Overprotective parenting is often associated with helicopter parenting. Such type of parenting behavior causes children to become irritable and rebellious. Moreover, parents who excessively pamper their children often face difficulties later. In the long-run, it becomes challenging for the child to face problems on their own. Overprotective parenting habits cause children to become less independent. They depend on others to solve their problems which can lead to learning impediments in a child’s psychological, physical, and social development.
As children grow older, they need autonomy and a sense of individuality. Children should be provided opportunities to make their own choices. Fear of the unknown drives parents to protect their children from harm; both real and imagined. With this mindset, children never learn to think for themselves. While parental guidance is essential throughout a child’s life, kids should be allowed to make mistakes and face the consequences of those actions/choices.
Understandably, parents want to protect their children from harm. But they also need to strike a balance between providing a protective shell and giving reins to a child. Being too protective can instill fear in a child, preventing them from experimenting and experiencing things. It can also hurt a child’s psychology so that they grow up fearing everything.
Some indicators of overprotective parenting habits include being strict with rules, pressuring kids to perform well (in academics, athletics, etc.), and giving extreme rewards/punishments as consequences for actions. Given such an environment, kids learn to lie their way through a mistake, have low self-esteem, and are prone to anxiety and depression.
So, this is what you should do: Let your child make mistakes. Let them be kids and allow them to learn at their own pace. From a parent’s perspective, this is scary. However, you can’t shield your child from the realities of this world forever. There will be a time when the child has to face reality. Children should comprehend how the world works through their own experiences. They will make mistakes along the way, but it shouldn’t lead to a panic attack. What is the worst that could happen?
What happens when we let our children make mistakes?
1. Children become resilient
Resilience is the ability to recover from a setback. Learning from a mistake allows a child to develop this valuable characteristic: facing and growing from failures. Moreover, a child recognizes where they went wrong. This way, minor inconveniences would not lead to temper tantrums or misbehavior from the child. Instead, the child learns how to spring back into action. In addition to this, facing failure makes children less prone to feelings of anxiousness.
Resilience teaches a child to invest in constant growth and improvement. It opens them up to taking on new challenges and initiatives and solving problems. Most importantly, it opens them to new experiences. Resilient children will set their goals and follow them through to the end. This mindset makes them independent learners and self-reliant since they believe that they can set their own goals and achieve them.
2. Children become responsible
When a child makes a mistake, they see the consequences of their actions. It allows them to take responsibility for the mistakes that they make. For example, when a child fails a test because they didn’t study for it, they can take that natural consequence and choose to be better prepared next time. Without mom or dad swooping in to solve the problem/blame the teacher, it allows the child to accept ownership of their situation. The next time, the child puts an effort to get better grades. Having a sense of responsibility is an integral part of a child’s growth. Without this, a child may become careless, dishonest, and lazy. Hence, realizing that they are responsible for their actions helps them in becoming better adults. Moreover, children with this trait are less likely to lie, give excuses for when things go wrong, thus they are better prepared to face life’s challenges.
3. Children learn decision-making skills
Through mistakes that a child makes, they learn how their decisions impact a situation. In this case, parents must help a child examine the role their choices have played in their situation. Mistakes help in improving decision-making skills, whether in the case of an adult or a child. Even adults make bad choices, so it should be okay if a child makes a poor choice once in a while, as long as a mistake does not threaten the child or pose a risk to the child’s well-being.
This helps in developing the thought process and brings a level of wisdom to the child. With their parents' guidance, they learn the difference between a good versus a bad choice and are better equipped to weigh the pros and cons of each decision that they make. As a child’s decision-making skills improve, parents can gradually pull themselves from the equation, trusting their child in the absence of parental guidance. Hence, children grow up to become more independent.
4. Children learn about themselves
In making mistakes, it helps a child identify what motivates them intrinsically. In the long-run, this is a positive change because a child will know what they want for their future selves. In addition to this, a child learns their strengths and weaknesses and are better equipped to address them. Hence, it makes a child self-reliant. This way, a child learns to think for themselves independently. Instead of looking for motivation from the outside, the child learns to look for motivation from the inside.
Younger children are not emotionally mature; they have a hard time controlling their emotions and will throw a temper tantrum when distressed. However, with time, a child should be able to identify their feelings and manage them. By making mistakes and identifying their emotions, a child also grows emotionally and learns skills to handle both positive and negative emotions, such as anger, jealousy, happiness, sadness, excitement, etc. So it helps children become emotionally mature.
Letting your child make mistakes
It might sound scary but bear with me. Letting a child make mistakes does not mean that parents should give them complete freedom for their actions. Instead, it means giving children a healthy environment to make mistakes of their own accord and counseling them along the way. Here are a few ways that parents can try to let go a bit and relax:
- Trust your kids to make the right choice. If you think that the decision is not a good one, give hints but do not jump to a conclusion. You should let your child do that by considering the pros and cons.
- Be patient and let your kid do their thing even if it means bending the rules a bit. Does your kid like to get dirty during playtime? Let them do it! But also let them know the consequences of their actions. Let them know that they have to clean up after themselves. Allow the child to follow through to the end by assisting as little as possible.
- Communicate with your child. Your child made a mistake, now what? Talk to your child and help them realize where they went wrong. By talking to them in a calm tone (without letting anger take the best of you), your child is reassured that they can trust you.
- When it comes to digital devices, parents’ concerns are valid. However, taking away your child’s device is not the way to go about it. Instead, install a parental monitoring app (such as Xnspy) or check the device that your child uses. Your child should trust you in this regard. Hence, let them know the motive behind checking up on their device. Installing a parental monitoring app allows parents to control the device remotely, as well.
The inherent nature of a parent is to protect their children from all harm, no matter what the scale. While this shows a parent’s concern for the child, being overprotective has negative consequences for a child’s growth. Parents should encourage their children to become independent and resilient. We should be the ones cheering for our child from the sidelines and providing them the necessary guidance that they need. After all, we can’t lead them by the finger for their entire lives.
Andrew Carroll in an expert in child psychology and child-parent relationship. He has worked with children for more than two decades and provides counseling to both children and their parents. He has done a lot of research on child-parent relation and possesses valuable insights as to how both can have a healthy and loving relationship.