All children must make mistakes to learn. As we grow we try new things and sometimes we do well, while other times we fail. This follows us into adulthood. The problem is many times we seem to find our identity in our mistakes and failures. This can be detrimental to our outlook on life.
If we do not see the positive in the mistake, we cannot overcome its power. Mistakes tend to make us or break us. We love a great story that shows someone overcoming an obstacle. Some of my favorites are Remember the Titans, Fireproof, and The Pursuit of Happiness. Each story begins with mistakes made and ends with the main characters taking those mistakes and changing their life. Mistakes are obstacles. They don't define us, they mean we are growing.
Culture tells us to find shame in mistakes. I see this constantly in the classroom. If a student makes a mistake, they shut down, they stop. They see it as a negative defining moment, instead of a positive defining moment.
What do I mean by this? Well, it's simple, when we make a mistake we need to realize that it means we are learning. I tell my students all the time, "Your mess-ups allow me to have a job and you don't want me to be unemployed do you?" They look at me like I have lost my mind! I explain, "If you never mess up on your work in class, then there is no need for you to have a teacher." They look at me and smile. This tells them that the soundtrack their playing in their head needs to be eliminated! Check out this video showing teachers teaching students to overcome their fear of failing.
Like these teachers, we all need someone to help us see the positive in our mistakes. Someone to be there to hold us accountable to the idea that making a mistake is not the end of the world. We need to own up to our mistakes and move on.
Sometimes this is hard to do. There are obstacles that get in our way. Most of the time it is our own perception of the mistake. We have many ways to overcome obstacles. They involve the words accountability, forgiveness, love, and do-overs. Yes, do-overs. Everyone needs a second chance. Some people even need a third, fourth, or millionth chance. This is what Jesus states when Peter asks how many times he should forgive, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." In Matthew 18, Jesus gives us the answer in dealing with people who have messed up. Read it to find out the answer! It will change your life.
Parents and teachers need to learn how to inspire a child using these terms. We have to be sure we are speaking life into students and not death when they make a mistake. When a student makes the same mistake over and over again, adults struggle to speak the life they need to hear. How do parents and teachers do this? Stay tuned! In part two, I will explain how a parent or teacher can provide this support in three easy steps.