Tips and Strategies for Parents: Help, I've made a mistake!

Tips and Strategies for Parents

A selection of useful tips for parents and caretakers.

Help, I've made a mistake!

What to do when you make a mistake? You may have misjudged your child or made an inappropriate comment or perhaps you were in a bad mood and didn't react as kindly as you would normally do. Adults find it often tricky to admit that they made a mistake towards their children. There are a few ways we react to these situations.

Four basic reactions

  1. We don't care because we feel we are right!
  2. We know we were wrong but find it difficult to admit.
  3. In the heat of the moment we know we need to stop but can't help ourselves.
  4. We know our reaction was wrong and regret it later.

1 We don't care because we feel we are right!

I think we need to care about the effect we have on our children. You maybe need to look where your reaction is coming from.

2 We know we were wrong but find it difficult to admit.

Adults find it often tricky to admit that they have made a mistake towards their children. If I do this does that mean that I give away my power? Will they use it against me later?

The simple answer is: no you don't. Children often appreciate the fact that adults CAN say sorry and admit they did something wrong. It makes them human after all.

It's also a good example for our children to see what you do when you make a mistake and how you would solve it (remember, you are the role model for your child). Honesty is for children very important. They see and feel a lot more then we think they do and when they see different behaviour they feel it doesn't make sense for them. They get confused and start doubting their own feelings. What if mum or dad can't show how they feel, what am I suppose to do?

Example

Saying: No I'm not sad or angry, and the children actually see a different emotion, will give the children the message that they're not able to judge the feelings of their parents. How can they understand their own feelings then? Be true to yourself and your family. We don't have to make a drama out of it but just show your true feelings and maybe explain why you feel like that. These lessons are a great example for children how adults deal with stress, fear, anger, sadness etc. They'll learn from it as well so don't be afraid to show your feelings.

3 In the heat of the moment we know we need to stop but can't help ourselves.

If that's the case and you really know... then make sure you leave and cool down. You can say to your child: I feel I'm getting angry and I don't want to be angry. I will cool off for a while and come back in 10 minutes (or the time you really need to cool down). It also shows your child that you are able to manage your own anger. At first this seems like a very difficult thing to do but please try it and you'll see it really helps with a bit of practice.

4 We know our reaction was wrong and regret it later.

Feeling guilty later makes us feel sad and often regret our first reaction. Why didn't I stop? What made me so angry? My child probably feels terrible. Try to say you're sorry as quick as you can. You may have to ring your child or text him or her, or straight after you picked them up from school. Again, you are a role model so it is good to let them know when you have made a mistake.

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