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Tags: behavior | meme | pushback
OPINION

Correcting Mistakes Begins With Learning from Them

learning from mistakes
(Michalsuszycki/Dreamstime.com)

Dr. Laura By Monday, 08 May 2023 01:33 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

In private practice, and now on my radio show, I’ve heard from parents who want their child to change some habit, like whining when they lose a game or freaking out when things go wrong.

The parents expect a simple lecture or meme will change their child.

When I point out their child’s problem stems from family dynamics and parental behaviors and that the parent needs to change, there is always pushback.

They expect a child can turn on a dime, while they have spent decades not changing what they know is their own problem.

This recent call summarizes the reality when you want children to give up a negative way of handling something like failure:

Dr. Laura: Jenny, welcome to the program.

Jenny: What should I do to help my 10-year-old son deal with mistakes? How do you handle making mistakes in front of him? I am a perfectionist probably. And I know my husband is. Then he got it from you guys. And that’s what I fear. Well, you don’t have to fear it. You just know it now. What do I do to fix it? I explained to Jenny that she and her husband were the adults.

"He already sees that if he makes a mistake, he becomes worthless because of how he’s watched you two berate yourselves when you made mistakes."

So, what should your kids start seeing you do?

You should say, "Wow, I got that backwards" or "I got it inside out" or "I did it wrong,"and "Let’s see, how can I repair this? Is this fixable?"

And you can even say to your son: "What could we do to make this better? I could use your advice."

Now, instead of seeing his parents go into self-hating fits of anger and frustration, he sees them problem-solving and asking him to solve the problem. New habits develop. It all starts with the two of you clearly making mistakes, sometimes even on purpose, so that you can go, "Oh my God, I did this wrong."

He sees that and then you go, "Geez."

You say, "I screwed this up. Normally, I’d blow a gasket. But that’s kind of stupid of me to do, isn’t it? So, how do we fix this? How do we solve the problem? You have any ideas?”

He hears in his mind, "Mommy said, 'Normally I blow a gasket, but that’s useless.' Shoot, that sounds like me. And now I’m being asked to solve the problem."

Now, he gets into problem-solving mode.

The people who do well in life are not perfectionists.

It’s the people who can temporarily blow a gasket, then spend most of their time remedying the problem instead of hating themselves.

One of the things that I think you should have him do — and you’re going to think I’m nuts now — is start getting Legos.

They’re very good for retraining yourself to relax and solve a problem rather than getting angry and throwing the set against the wall, which would make too many pieces to pick up.

Sit with him and read while he’s doing something. Inevitably, he will make a mistake.

Then you say, "The cool part of making a mistake is now we’re really going to understand how they put this together, because we’re going to go back and fix the mistake. This is so cool. I’m so glad you did that."

So that’s how we change his head. It starts with mommy and daddy.

You didn’t initially want to tell me that you and your husband are perfectionists.

And perfectionists suffer way too much.

Now, I used to be called a perfectionist. I’m not sure, but I’m certainly persistent.

That’s different.

I will remedy a situation. I will figure it out. I will make it happen. I will do it till it’s right.

I am persistent.

Do I get frustrated? Absolutely.

There are times I have to walk away from myself. I’ll go have a cup of tea, go rearrange whatever it is. Do something, clear your head, come back, and do it. I think that’s the best thing for kids.

It’s not hearing, "You’re stupid. You’re bad. You’re dumb. You can’t do anything."

They see the parents getting all angry, and angry with each other. "How could you have done that? You burned my toast." What? Make two other pieces of toast. Who the hell cares? It’s not important. You have to really decide, is this the hill I want to die on?

Dr. Laura (Laura Schlessinger) is a well-known radio personality and best-selling author. She appears regularly on many television shows and in many publications. Listen to Dr. Laura on SiriusXM Channel 111, Mon.–Sat. 2–6pm ET, Sun. 5–9pm ET.​ Read Dr. Laura's Reports — More Here.

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DrLaura
There are times I have to walk away from myself. I’ll go have a cup of tea, go rearrange whatever it is. Do something, clear your head, come back, and do it. I think that’s the best thing for kids.
behavior, meme, pushback
794
2023-33-08
Monday, 08 May 2023 01:33 PM
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