Kids Normal

What to do when your child makes a big mistake

Are you looking for the different ways in which you can solve a big mistake your kid has made? 

Failures are a part of life and not the end of the world—more so for kids! Parents need to respond correctly to their children’s mistakes. Sometimes, kids make big mistakes. How you deal with them can either have a positive or negative impact on your relationship with them. It also determines their likelihood of repeating the mistakes and what lesson they learn from them.

However, no one is perfect, all of us make mistakes or experience setbacks in our lives. Our children are no different because it is common for them to make mistakes too. Parents ought to convey the right message to their children when they make a mistake. While some parents might want to confront their child, others might want to address the reason behind the error. Seldom do parents pay heed to the fact that their reactions to their child’s mistakes can affect their child in more ways.

What’s a well-meaning parent ought to do? How do you help your child get through these growing-up mistakes so that they learn from them, and grow stronger from them? A parent’s reaction can help a child gain perspective toward a problem. Next time your kiddo makes a mistake, try responding in some of the following ways to help her overcome a setback:

1. Stay Calm

Your awesome child might still be in a panic mode after seeing things go wrong. You as a parent might also be experiencing all kinds of feelings depending on the situation. This might not be the best time for either of you to process the situation. Take some time to calm down and encourage your child to do the same.

It is the best time to build trust with your young one. Take a moment to say things like “It’s okay I’ve been through the same when I was your age.” This will effectively help them feel reassured and encourage them to learn from others’ mistakes. Once you are in a better headspace to consciously reflect, sit down with your teenager and discuss. This way they’ll know that making mistakes is not a bad thing and what is important is to focus on learning from them.

When your child makes a mistake, it is paramount to create a safe space for open communication. Encourage them to share their experience, feelings, and reasoning without fear of judgment. Establishing trust and a nonjudgmental environment ensures your child feels secure, making it easier for them to discuss their mistakes and seek guidance.

2. Assess the Situation

How often do you get frustrated when your child stains her nice shirt with jelly or drops her plate of dinner all over the kitchen floor? If you’re like me, you’ve lost your temper at some point.

But ask yourself whether the mistake was an accident—usually the answer is yes. Rarely do kids make mistakes on purpose. She may have spilled all the cereal out of the box and onto the counter, but she was likely just trying to be more independent and serve herself breakfast.

Reminding yourself that the mistake was an accident helps put the situation in perspective. We all make our own mistakes. How often have we gotten frustrated at our kids for spilling a cup of water, only to do the same thing ourselves?

Every child is different and what matters is that you teach her to put in efforts. The outcome may differ for every child, and therefore, the focus should not entirely be on the outcome or the result, but on the fact that your child has put in hard work. Some children may be content with their effort, but others may feel too hurt from a setback. You must let your child vent out her feelings, get over the setback, and plan out the best way to move ahead.

3. Listen First

Sometimes when a child makes a mistake, she may be aware of what went wrong. She may even know how to mend it or deal with the situation. During such times, it becomes important for the parent to become an observer and see how their child tries to amend her mistakes. Letting the child deal with her problems is an effective way of showing that you trust her to make her own decisions.

As parents, we have this innate need to come to our child’s immediate rescue when we see her dealing with a problem. However, sometimes it’s important to exercise restraint and not intrude in your child’s business until she asks for your help. Let your child come to you for help before offering her a solution on your own. 

4. Acknowledge Feelings

Not only is it important to teach children to accept their own mistakes, but it is equally important that parents accept that their children are going to make mistakes, leading to failure and disappointment. Parents are encouraged to empathize and validate feelings of frustration and disappointment. Use language such as, “I can see you are disappointed and upset, I know you really wanted to do better.” By taking the time to talk with your children and recognize their feelings, it lets them know you are listening and are there to help.

Angry, sad, disappointed, contemptuous, or surprised, acknowledge how your child feels after the mistake has occurred and discuss with them why they may be feeling like this. This encourages your child to consider how their actions have an effect on their feelings, which is a vital skill throughout their life. It’s essential to support them through these feelings and reassure them that they are valid.

5. Avoid Harsh Criticism

Do not use hurtful words or shame your child for her mistakes or failures. This can adversely affect the psyche of a child. Always be encouraging and supportive towards your kid. No one ever likes to make mistakes, and the same applies to children – constantly nagging or reminding them of their mistakes may scar their young minds for life. It’s no secret that teenagers prefer confiding in their peers instead of their parents. This is because they feel supported by their friends.

Talking to your child as a peer can greatly influence how they tackle a mistake. Teenagers’ mistakes need to be approached with patience, unconditional love, and understanding. Letting them know about your own childhood mistakes and how you dealt with them can make them feel at ease. Try not to make them feel guilty or chastise them without explaining. This might alienate them from you without aiding them to learn from their mistakes.

6. Discuss Consequences

Chances are your teenager already feels guilty about their actions. Once you make them feel supported, ask them why they feel guilty. Let them know your feelings about their answers to make them feel at ease. You can follow this conversation up with what else could have gone wrong and ask them how they would have tackled it. Ensure that you create a safe and encouraging space so they do not feel cornered or punished.

The best way to help teenagers learn from mistakes is by encouraging communication around them. If they learn that there are ways to fix problems no matter how things go wrong, it can help them tackle them better in the long run. While mistakes offer learning opportunities, they also come with consequences. Teach your child about accountability by discussing the repercussions of their actions. This helps them understand the connection between choices and outcomes, fostering a sense of responsibility for their behavior.

7. Encourage Responsibility

Jumping in to fix the error yourself is helicopter parenting. Helping means showing them how to find ways to figure out what to do themselves. When you try to comfort your child, be careful not to give them pity, which can send a harmful message—that they aren’t capable. “Instead of saying, ‘I’m so sorry you can’t do this, you can help the child acknowledge what went poorly and focus on finding a solution.

Allowing kids the freedom to make mistakes helps build resilience and is an essential life experience on the road to raising confident and capable kids. When kids have an opportunity to struggle through different situations and sometimes fail in the process, you allow them to develop and hone important social and emotional skills.

But when kids don’t have opportunities to fail or struggle, they often have lower self-esteem and underdeveloped problem-solving skills. They also tend to be more fearful of failure and are less willing to take risks or try new things.

8. Highlight the Learning Opportunity

Sometimes it may be in the best interest of your child to forget and set aside the problem for a while. You can indulge in some fun activities, such as going to the park, a movie, a shopping spree, or anything that takes away the focus from the problem, so you can come back to it with a fresh take and solution. Common childhood mistakes make for awesome teachers.

When your child makes mistakes, don’t make her feel ashamed for doing so. Making poor decisions can be healthy and helpful—they help her learn what to do and not do in the future. 

Mistakes are an inevitable part of life that we can make the most of. Rather than reprimand her, help her sort through her emotions and allow her to learn from her mistakes. She’ll know you have faith in her ability to try, fail, and eventually learn and succeed. Making mistakes helps her develop coping mechanisms for managing frustration, anxiety, and guilt. She’ll build resilience and develop a growth mindset and the emotional skills to decide how to make the situation better.

9. Offer Support and Guidance

No teenager sets out with the intention of making a mistake. Most common teenage mistakes are the results of impulsive innocent actions. So your kid might be confused about what went wrong and how. To help them feel at ease, you can talk about the situation and ask them what they think went wrong. Instead of lecturing, encouraging their active participation in dealing with the problem can help them develop lifelong skills.

When they are taught to sit down with the problem at a young age, they will pick it up as a habit even when they are adults. It can be easy to say things like, ‘I’m sorry that you didn’t win this time’ or ‘It must be hard for you’. Despite the goodwill, these expressions show signs of pity, which can often imply to your child that they may not be capable of the task at hand. Instead, acknowledge their effort in the lead-up and discuss future attempts, reassuring them of their capability.

10. Follow Up

Though mistakes are inevitable, you can also prevent many of them from happening in the first place. Child-proof your home, or set valuables out of reach. Pull the kids apart when they’re starting to play too rough and guide them toward more appropriate activities.

In my case, I could’ve moved the cups of water away from the dining table when my kids were goofing around or communicated clearly when I told them to stop.

Kids can make mistakes because we didn’t take the precautions to avoid them. Rather than stepping in to resolve the mistake on behalf of your child, discuss and show them ways that they may be able to fix it themselves. This could mean that together, you go through each step of the process or as simple as discussing alternative ways for them to try.

11. Model Good Behavior

Your children may see you as someone invincible. Be open to showing your children that everyone (even adults!) makes mistakes by willingly acknowledging your own mistakes when you are near or around them. Talk openly through the steps you use to handle challenges. You can be an example of someone who makes mistakes and deals with them appropriately. Ultimately, you want to demonstrate to your children the same behaviors you would like them to demonstrate when they inevitably make mistakes.

Children are still developing their skills and methods of managing their emotions, so mistakes can become all-consuming. If this is the case with your child, a good practice is to provide them with a broader perspective, to help lead them away from becoming too focused on the negative of the situation. Discuss times when you made a mistake and how you moved on from it. Reassure them that mistakes help us to develop and learn and are fundamental for our personal development.

12. Set Clear Expectations

Instead of talking about the loss, focus on how to do it better the next time. Remind your child that whatever went wrong can be a very useful and educational tool in figuring out what to do or not do in the future. Talk about what was fun, what they did and didn’t like, and what they think could be done better the next time. Help them channel their energy into strategizing for the future and focus on the fun and satisfaction of learning, rather than winning.

These moment-to-moment choices ultimately determine where they fit in and who they are.  Our children grow from being naïve, immature pre-schoolers to more aware, mature decision-making pre-adults. Be sure to tell your child that this outcome doesn’t define who they are and that there are so many things that they are good at. Talk to them about times that you have failed at something before and what you did to change the outcome the next time. Reassure them that mistakes are something all human beings make. The fact that we don’t always get it right is one of the fundamental things that makes us all human. 

13. Create a Problem-Solving Mindset

A child’s disappointment or mistake is an opportunity for parents to teach acceptance and problem-solving skills. It is important to explain that mistakes are opportunities to learn and grow. When your children make a mistake, ask them what lessons were learned. What did this experience teach them? What can they try differently next time as a result? Again…reinforce the idea that everyone makes mistakes. One way parents can do this is by providing examples of famous or successful individuals who previously experienced failure, disappointments, or mistakes in their lives.

Guide your child in finding solutions to rectify their mistakes. Encourage them to brainstorm and implement strategies to prevent similar errors in the future. This active problem-solving approach empowers your child, instilling a sense of control over their actions and fostering independence.

14. Reinforce Positive Behaviors

It is important to help children step out of their comfort zone and take some risks. Let children know that by only doing things they are already good at, they limit themselves and may miss out on new enjoyable opportunities. You can share that you will be available to offer support in tackling the new risk. We learn and grow by challenging ourselves with new experiences and working through them. This helps lead to a mastery of dealing with challenges and disappointment.

The truth is, that children need to make volumes and volumes of mistakes to learn. Take a child learning to walk. He falls constantly. Do we criticize him and reprimand him every time he falls? That is surely ridiculous! Similarly, all the mistakes a child makes are an extension of that toddlerhood and should be treated in the same accepting way.

15. Build a Supportive Environment

It is especially during difficult times that one needs to feel loved and reassured and know that their loved ones are always beside them. Show her your love and compassion before looking for the solution to her mistake – your reassuring words will help your child sail through smoothly through difficult moments. It may be difficult for the parents to see their child making a mistake and then dealing with the consequences, but your reaction may help your child a great deal in handling her mistakes.

As a parent, you might feel impatient, especially when your child makes a big mistake. However, punishing them won’t help your teenager learn from their mistakes. In psychology, punishment is believed to decrease the chances of a behavior but without any healthy problem-solving skills. When you hit your child for a particular thing, they know not to repeat it in front of you. There is still a chance that they might do it behind your back and get into worse trouble. A better way to encourage your teenager to learn from their mistakes is to explain. If they do not tend to simply understand, reinforce the desired behavior by rewarding them when they do it.


Finally, reassure your child that you always have their back and that you’ll be there for them to talk to about their feelings and thoughts regarding any mistake they make. Make sure that they know that your love is something they can always count on, no matter what the mistake is, and that they can come and confide in you. We have all been there: “We all make mistakes.”  It’s easy for us to say those comforting words – to be compassionate and forgiving – when we see someone else’s kid mess up.  But how do we handle it when it’s one of our own?  With the same loving kindness and wisdom? We all make mistakes, especially our children who are growing up trying to figure out what’s right, what’s wrong, and what they want to do about it.

Hopefully. Are you laughing out loud?  If your child has gotten to the teen years yet, or even the tween years, you probably are.  Or you’re rolling your eyes.  Or you’re holding your breath. When a child makes a mistake he automatically feels ashamed and embarrassed on his own. We don’t need to add to it! In fact, by celebrating and making light of the mistake, we save the child from his shame and teach him to accept himself with his imperfections. That pleasure will ensure that he remembers and learns from the event!

Vincent Otieno

Vincent Otieno is a passionate jewelry enthusiast and writer at Getnamenecklace, an e-commerce store dedicated to offering exquisite jewelry and thoughtful gifts for your loved ones. With a keen eye for detail and a deep appreciation for the art of gift-giving, Vincent curates a collection that celebrates the beauty of craftsmanship and the joy of making family moments unforgettable.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *