Raising a perfect child is impossible – almost as impossible as being the perfect parent. Here is why your child’s mistakes are an essential part of their development.

Parenting and Secure Attachment

Secure Attachment depends upon both connection and time away from their caregiver. This ebb and flow develops resiliency and grit.

If you notice when toddlers just learning to crawl or walk, they explore and then return to their parent, looking for connection. This is part of developing independence and gaining the security that even after they separate, their parent will still be there to reconnect and provide Secure Attachment.

We All Make Mistakes

Part of developing independence is the risk of making mistakes. With very young children, this may mean falling down as they learn to toddle about and in older kids, it could mean breaking something in the house or breaking the house rules.

Making mistakes teaches children valuable lessons about problem-solving, disappointment, repercussions, and that in spite of any reprimand their parent still loves them and repairs any misattunement that occurs during difficult times.

In a recent series of teachings with Kim John Payne, Diane Poole Heller relayed a story that John Travolta told about his childhood. As a child of older parents with older siblings, he never had a moment where he wasn’t being watched. He never learned how to get into trouble and therefore, never learned how to get out of trouble, which led to problems when he made mistakes as an adult.

In a Ted Talk by Angela Lee Duckworth, she explains that one of the key components of success is grit and perseverance, which can only truly be developed when you contend with both success and failure.

Shielding children from failure, mistakes, and disappointment may hinder their development and stunt their skills to handle varying situations as adults.

Maintaining Secure Attachment

Of course, learning that actions have consequences is part of growing up, but how can parents deliver repercussions to their children’s actions without damaging healthy Attachment?

  • Reframe the situation for your child
  • Assure them that everyone makes mistakes
  • Remind them of why certain rules exist
  • Choosing not to follow the rules has negative consequences
  • Reconnect after painful moments
  • Don’t hold a grudge

It can often seem like a balancing act to provide responsible parenting while still connecting and reassuring your child. Fortunately, as a parent, you do not have to be perfect. Maintaining 30 percent attunement with your child is enough to maintain Secure Attachment. Repairing after rupture is the ticket, and as a parent, you also can expect to make mistakes.

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