It’s not ok to make mistakes

Sadly, some children may have learnt at a very young age that its not OK to make mistakes or get things wrong. These are the children in our schools who may lie and deny to extremes that they have done or not done something. They can be so convincing at times that the school staff may even start to question their own judgement, for example, a child who is tapping a ruler against the desk and it suddenly snaps. The adult may have seen this happen but the child is so adamant that it didn’t and the ruler was already broken, that the adult starts to be unsure.

When a child has learnt that telling the truth or getting something wrong isn’t safe, either because they have been physically or emotionally reprimanded or humiliated, or experienced an extreme reaction such as being sent to bed without tea because they accidentally knocked a cup over, they will do all they can to avoid experiencing the feelings of shame and guilt again.

It is crucial that we as adults model an alternative approach to children by acknowledging and naming our own mistakes, identifying when we do something wrong or by accident and stating that it is OK to do this.

Remember, part of being human is making mistakes, accidentally doing things and getting things wrong, it is how we learn. We need to get this message across to all children so they feel safe enough to admit when things go wrong.

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