The merits of learning from mistakes as well as successes

Dec 2012
The importance of children learning from mistakes
The ability to reflect on successes and failures is critical to a child's ability to make decisions

The ability to reflect on choices, successes and failures is critical to a growing child's ability to make decisions that will lead to a bright future both personally and professionally. Some of the world's leading figures encountered huge stumbling blocks on the road to fame and glory, but used these to refine their strategies and come up with a plan that would eventually see them arriving safely at their desired destination.

Indeed, if Thomas Edison had not viewed his thousands of failed attempts at inventing the light bulb as opportunities to learn, he could have stopped just one attempt away from succeeding to invent one of the world's most valuable inventions.

Although children have a long time before they have to deal with disappointments such as missing out to another candidate on a job interview or still having a low house deposit pot after years of hard work and saving, preparing them to draw the positives from their successes and failures will help them on the path to becoming well informed and well rounded individuals.

Whether it involves bouncing back from not being picked for a leading role in the Christmas nativity or celebrating outstanding SATs results, children may come to learn patience and perseverance from their 'failure' and take on the idea that hard work definitely pays off from their successes.

A fact sheet compiled by the Ohio State University gives parents the following guidance in their publication entitled 'Helping Children Achieve Success and Learn from Failure.'

  • Provide guidance for your child. Children need to know that success and failures are a part of life. Knowing how to get back up and try again after a failure is an important lesson.

  • Celebrate and discuss successes. Help your child see what he or she has done to enable a particular success.

  • Be a role model for your child. Let your child observe you experiencing successes and failures. Through these observations your child will learn how you handle the emotions that accompany success and failure.

  • Help your child learn to deal with his or her emotions. Children may experience joy, pride, guilt, shame, sadness, or a host of other emotions. Children need to talk about their feelings and emotions. Parents can help children learn how to express their emotions in a socially acceptable way.

  • Help your child to develop positive social relationships that can provide support when things go wrong. Other caring adults and friends can also provide guidance and direction in a child's life. They can serve as role models. Your child can observe how they respond to success and failure.