While painting some interior rooms for Jim, our elderly neighbor, my son’s brush slipped and he got paint on the ceiling. He quickly ran to grab a wet rag to clean it up. While he was scrubbing, Jim came into the room and listened to my son’s apology for messing up. Jim’s response was wise and simple. He said, “Don’t waste time worrying about your failures, instead, spend your time correcting and growing from them.” He smiled, and brought my son a Coke.
The exchange had a profound effect on my son. His take-away, as he explained it, was this:
The first lesson he learned was that mistakes are not to be feared or frowned upon. They become a problem when we continue to make the same mistakes over and over.
Secondly, be careful in how you approach someone who has made a mistake. Degrading them or making them feel additional shame or guilt about their actions, or inaction, lowers their confidence and their self-esteem.
Jim’s reaction inspired my son to not fear making a mistake. He was no longer nervous and he had greater confidence in his abilities. He finished the room without another accidental brush stroke, knowing that Jim believed in him.
Before heading to his room for the night he wrote a proverb on a sticky note. “Life is full of mistakes. Make the most out of them, keep a good attitude, and don’t rub them in other people’s faces.”
Vicki and her husband Terry are the parents of eight children and were named Colorado Parents of the Year and Family of the Year, 2001. Vicki is the author of two books, many articles, former talk show host, and has appeared on numerous television and radio programs. To get your parenting questions answered, write to Vicki at firstname.lastname@example.org.