Expert Parenting Advice
Practical parenting tips and advice from experts around the world

The good news about making mistakes

Why the mistakes you make as parent can be good for your kids.

I felt pretty bad tonight.

It is school holidays, and my kids just didn't want to go to sleep. I tried all the tricks I could think of, but they just wouldn't settle down.

Finally, I snapped and yelled at them "You stay quiet now. If I hear anything from you, then no TV tomorrow!"

I regretted it immediately. I hate yelling at my kids. And I hate making threats. Especially threats that I won't enforce.

Now, whenever I feel bad about my parenting mistakes, I think of something that Dr. Hilary Mandzik told me when I interviewed her for our book How To Get Kids To Listen:

So, there’s no bad guys here. Not bad parents, not bad kids. It’s just people who are doing the best with what they have in that moment. And we can all do better over time.

I want people to move away from this idea of bad kids or bad behavior or bad parenting. All of us are just doing our best. And so, as we know better, we can do better.

Dr Hilary Mandzik

I think we parents tend to be very hard on ourselves, because it is so easy to focus on the times that we make mistakes. We beat ourselves up, and tell ourselves that we are bad parents.

The truth is that you will make mistakes as a parent. Lots of them.

But the good news is that making mistakes can be a good thing. Why? Because it gives you an opportunity to teach your kids how to act when they make mistakes.

Remembering this, and after I had calmed down, I went back to my kids, and I apologized for yelling at them. I explained to them why I yelled, "It just frustrates me when you keep getting out of bed. It makes me so angry. But I am sorry for yelling at you."

We hugged, and they finally went to sleep.

In the interview with Dr. Mandzik, she shares how to manage your own emotions when your kid gets emotional, and why it is so critical for you to feel and express your feelings.

The thing is, the better you get at regulating and expressing your feelings, the better your kids will get at expressing their own feelings, and the better they will get at regulating those feelings. That means they make better decisions, easier cooperation, and a calmer household.