The other day, I’m in the living room playing with my toddler when I hear a crash from the kitchen and a small voice say “um….Mom. I made a mistake and need some help.”
I get up and walk into the kitchen. The first thing I see is milk all over the floor. It’s not just on the floor, it splashed up the cabinets and walls. Drops of milk seemed to get on every surface of my freshly cleaned kitchen.
Then I see my 4 year old son is standing there, eyes wide, about to cry.
“Mommy, I didn’t mean to, the cup just fell out of my hand and milk went everywhere!”
Seriously, I laughed. I knew he didn’t do it on purpose, of course it had been a mistake. Mistakes happen.
Then I said “Wow J, that is a HUGE mess! Look at how the milk just splattered everywhere! Isn’t that crazy!? What do you think we should do about this?”
“Clean it up!”
I handed him a few paper towels, got a few myself and together we cleaned the floor…and the walls…and the cabinets…
When I saw the mess, I had two choices. I could get mad, roll my eyes, and possibly say how irresponsible he is and rant on about how I couldn’t believe he could make such a mess.
Or I could laugh.
I choose laughter because I’ve been there and I know that mistakes happen.
You see…I had just done it myself.
Yep, that’s an entire container of oatmeal on my kitchen floor, spilled by yours truly.
Hey, it happens.
I know I wouldn’t want to be scolded just because I spilled something, so I don’t jump on my kids for accidents.
This is a concept that I’ve been trying to use in other situations as well.
Accidentally run into or hit your brother? “Apologize and try to be more careful next time”
Spill glitter all over our living room floor? “Here’s a vacuum”
Track mud into the house? “Here’s a mop”
Break something valuable? “Find a way to earn the money to pay for it”
Break something fixable? “Here’s the glue”
Every time an accident happens, I react the same. “Oops! Let’s fix it”. And like the spilled milk example…I might even laugh.
Accidents happen every single day, we’re human, and it’s okay.
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Dayna @ Lemon Lime Adventures
Love it! Simple and wonderful!
I think having this attitude is so important, not just for the child’s self-esteem, but for all aspects of their life. A child who feels like it’s okay to make mistakes is more likely to take chances and risk failure, which is beneficial for their entire future.
Yep – laughter is definitely the way to go! I’ve done this a few times when my 3 year old has made a “mistake” in public and people watching often look a little shocked at my response and then start laughing too! Our kids’ self-esteem is so much more important than spilled milk!
This has been huge for me. I admit, in the past I’d get more annoyed at their clumsiness. But I started seeing it for what it is: an accident that we are all culpable of doing as well. Now my reaction is more like yours. I don’t really laugh about it, but I do treat it as, “oh well!” and we get to fixing it up or resolving whatever mess happened. I love that it teaches my kids not to dread their parents’ reactions but that they can tell us when they make mistakes… and that we’ll help them fix it.
Yea, I think that once you reframe it in your mind, we can see what it really is, and accident. Yes, and depending on my mood, I’ll either laugh or just say “oh well”. I do try to laugh though, it lightens the mood. And I also agree with your last sentence. I really do hope that my kids know that they can come to me when they make mistakes. Today it’s the milk, in 15 years it can be something much bigger. I hope that they know that they can always come to me, and not fear my reaction.
Oh my goodness yes! My two year old tends to start crying when she’s made a big mistake. I just smile at her and first ask if she’s ok. I want to establish that she is FAR more important than whatever happened. If someone else is involved I ask about them too. Then I remind her that it was a mistake or accident and that they happen. Usually my next thing is to say that it’s easy to correct or clean up and I help her. All while being calm and smiling. I have noticed that I tend to sigh and look frustrated when it happens at first before I stop and change my attitude. I definitely need to work on that for her sake. I’ve been using the same approach with her little sister and I plan to continue it’s use as the kids grow older. Especially asking if they’re ok first, that’s the most important aspect to me.