How to Teach Your Child to Deal with Mistakes

One of the most difficult aspects of parenting is having to watch your child fail and make mistakes. We want to shield them from the resulting frustration, disappointment, and self-doubt.

But we all make mistakes, and we can’t protect our children from this reality. Instead, we can teach them how to deal with their mistakes in a healthy, productive way using the strategies below.

Be an Example

Be an example of someone who both makes mistakes and knows how to deal with them appropriately.

Your child likely sees you a superhero: perfect and incapable of failure. Show your child that everyone makes mistakes by freely acknowledging your mistakes around your child.

At the same time, be accepting of your mistakes or laugh them off. Don’t be negative or self-critical. Show your child the same behaviors you would like him to demonstrate when he makes mistakes.

Explain That Mistakes Help Us Learn

Teach your child that mistakes are opportunities to learn and improve.

When your child makes a mistake, ask him what lessons he’s learned. What did this experience teach him? What will he do differently next time as a result?

Kelly Holmes, the author of Happy You, Happy Family changed her daughter’s attitude about spelling words by high-fiving her daughter any time she misspelled a word and saying, “High five, you’re learning!”

As Holmes taught her daughter that spelling the words wrong helped her learn how to spell them right, her daughter’s confidence soared—and so did her spelling test scores.

Teach Your Child the Power of Yet

Any time your child says he can’t do something, complete his sentence with the word “yet.” Is he unable to do the task, or is he just not able to do it yet?

The power of yet is about believing that we can improve. Teach your child that through practice, hard work, and occasional mistakes, he can succeed.

Understanding this concept will help your child have a more positive attitude about mistakes and about his own abilities.

Give Examples of Famous People Who Made Mistakes

Reinforce the idea that everyone makes mistakes by giving your child examples of famous or successful people who experienced failure:

  • Thomas Edison, who went through over 10,000 prototypes before successfully inventing an improved electric lightbulb. What if he had quit on the 9,999th attempt?
  • Michael Jordan, who didn’t make his high school Varsity basketball team the first time he tried out. What if he had decided he wasn’t good enough to play basketball?
  • K. Rowling, whose manuscript for the bestselling Harry Potter was rejected 11 times before being published. What if she stopped trying after the 11th rejection?

These examples teach your child that it’s okay to make mistakes and that making mistakes doesn’t mean he won’t ultimately succeed.


These strategies, along with your unconditional love and support, will help your child learn to accept mistakes and deal with them appropriately.

Your child will learn that mistakes are not only valuable, but also a necessary part of the learning process.

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