There is no denying that when we make a mistake, we learn from it.
This isn’t to say we won’t make the same mistake again, but the goal is to learn the first time so we can avoid the pain it causes us next time.
This blog post about learning from mistakes is fantastic, and so true.
No Use in Cryin’
In our culture, making mistakes isn’t really seen as something positive; we try to avoid making mistakes and even sometimes avoid taking responsibility when we do make them. We don’t acknowledge our failures.
Furthermore, we often try to prevent our children from making mistakes as well… which is actually a mistake in itself. Don’t you want your child to learn for themselves, to learn from mistakes they make, and to look at everything with curiosity instead of fear?
Just think of all the plastic things made for our kids to prevent them from breaking anything; cups, plates, toys, books; it’s a little bit ridiculous. When the time comes for them to use things such as books with paper that can tear, glass cups that will shatter when dropped, or objects with sharp edges, they may not understand that these items are not plastic and will get upset if they get hurt or the object breaks.
It is better to teach your child early on that yes, glass will break if you drop it, paper will tear if you tug it too hard, if you tip a cup without a lid it will spill, and touching a sharp edge will hurt you.
Taking preventative measures so your child doesn’t break something may be nice for you because you don’t have to worry about cleaning up a mess or consoling their tears, but it won’t teach them anything.
In a Montessori environment, children are given real objects to use, and they are not punished or scolded for breaking anything or spilling something. The activity to which the object belonged is removed from the shelf until it can get replaced or repaired, making it impossible for anyone else to use that object.
This teaches children a sense of responsibility and accountability, no verbal punishment or reprimanding necessary.
There is a short story in the blog post that I mentioned above about a little boy learning from a previous mistake. He had broken a glass pitcher and it had since been replaced; he wanted to use it again. He picked up the tray with the pitcher on it, and as the pitcher began to slide he quickly stopped and waited for it to stay still. He then continued on his walk to the table and set down the tray with a smile of satisfaction and pride in himself.
The moral of the story? Allow your child to learn for themselves to gain confidence, self-esteem, and a sense of pride. Even if no one praises the achievement he will still be happy for himself in learning from his previous mistake and successfully completing the task at hand.
As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.”
What are some mistakes you have noticed your child learning?