14 strategies parents need to know
A great way to teach children that mistakes are wonderful opportunities to learn is to model this yourself by using the Three Rs of Recovery after you have made a mistake: 1) Recognize your mistake. 2) Reconcile. Be willing to say, "I'm sorry, I don't like the way I handled that." 3) Resolve. Focus on solutions rather than blame. It is much easier to take responsibility for a mistake when it is seen as a learning opportunity rather than something bad.
If we see mistakes as bad we tend to feel inadequate and discouraged and may become defensive, evasive, judgmental or critical—of ourselves or others. On the other hand, when mistakes are seen as opportunities to learn, recognizing them will seem like an exciting venture. "I wonder what I will learn from this one." Self-forgiveness is an important element of the first R of Recovery.
A Story from Jane Nelsen: My signature example is the time I said to my then eight-year-old daughter, "Mary, you are a spoiled brat." Mary, who is very familiar with the Three Rs of Recovery, retorted, "Well, don't tell me later that you are sorry." In total reaction, I said, "You don't have to worry, because I'm not." Mary ran to her bedroom and slammed the door.
I soon reverted back to my rational brain, realized what I had done, and went to her room to apologize. She was still angry, and was not ready for an apology. She had a copy of Positive Discipline and was busy scribbling "phony" in the column.
I left the room. I knew I had made a huge mistake. In about five minutes Mary came to me, timidly put her arms around me and said, "I'm sorry, Mama." I said, "Honey, I'm sorry, too. In fact, when I called you a spoiled brat, I was being one. I was upset at you for losing control of your behavior, but I had lost control of my own behavior. I am so sorry." Mary said, "That's okay, I was acting like a brat." I said, "Well, I can see what I did to provoke you to act that way." Mary said, "Well, I can see what I did."
Puja, above, realizes that when she told her mother a lie this morning to save herself from getting in trouble, she was actually creating more trouble than the incident itself caused. After her parents guided her through the three Rs for recovering from her falsehood, Puja is confident that she will not make that mistake again!