“No one is perfect.”
That’s often my mantra when I mess up or fail at something, I excuse my faults, embrace emotional defeat, and move on. I’ve found more recently, however, that there’s so much more to my mistakes than what I often realize. I handle my kid’s mistakes with much more grace than I do my own.
When my kids make mistakes I’m quick to talk them through the problem and help them understand how they could do things differently next time. For example; brother takes sisters toy so sister bites brother. That’s a mistake. It’s easy to jump into the fray and start yelling at them. “Just give her the toy! Biting is not ok! Go to your rooms!” But when I take my time (sometimes sending them to their rooms while I cool off and prepare to talk to them) I can turn any mistake into a learning opportunity.
These conversations usually start with, “What did you do that was not ok?” This gets them to confess and take ownership of their behavior.
Next, I ask, “Why did you do that?” This is their opportunity to explain their feelings and be heard without interruption.
Finally, I say, “How do you think you could have handled that better?”
It’s easy to feed them the right answers and behaviors, “Don’t do that, it’s not nice” but then we miss out on the opportunity to teach them how to process through their own mistakes. Teaching them to evaluate and correct their mistakes empowers them rather than defeats them.
So why don’t I allow myself the same privilege?
When I mess up, my self-talk is NOT typically, “that’s ok, love, let’s learn from this”. It’s more like, “you messed up again”, “you’re a terrible mom”, “just stuff it deep down and try to pretend it didn’t happen”.
What if I gave myself the same measure of grace I give them? What if I said, “Ok mama, why did you do that?” and I took the time to realize that I stayed up too late the night before and was cranky the next morning? Or I realized that I hadn’t taken the time to teach the behavior to my toddler that I was expecting them to demonstrate. Or maybe I realize that I’m irritated with my husband because I haven’t been intentional about spending quality time with him?
And then comes the beautiful opportunity to learn! How could I handle that better next time?
You see, every time I dismiss a mistake and file it away as another failure, I miss the chance to grow. I add a tally mark to the defeat column rather than the success column that comes from evaluating it and learning from it.
So will you join me? Let’s stop seeing our mistakes as failures. Let’s see them as beautiful opportunities to learn and grow!
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:2-3 NLT