How Embracing Mistakes Helps Parents & Kids Achieve Goals

Are you wondering how sharing your mistakes with your kids and allowing your kids to make mistakes will help your children reach the goals you have for them? Does it maybe feel like you’re lowering your standards by teaching kids that mistakes are wonderful opportunities to learn?  After all, high achievers set high goals, right? I used to think that myself – that holding myself to the tallest of standards was the best way to succeed. When I did make a mistake, I’d feel ashamed and didn’t want anyone to find out about it. Many times, I didn’t even want to admit it to myself.

embrace imperfection art journal photo lomo

How Embracing Mistakes Has Improved My Life

That shame of making mistakes I felt – that was years ago and since then, I’ve learned that I accomplish so much more when I embrace mistakes as part of the process of achieving goals and learning life lessons. Also I see how my kids are more resilient because they’ve been encouraged to look at mistakes as part of life and as part of the learning process.

Viewing mistakes as opportunities to learn has been one of the hardest things for me to learn, but it is this view that has provided me with tons of motivation, grace, forgiveness, problem solving practice and as I mentioned earlier, the quality that sustains us – resilience. Also, I’ve learned that I don’t have to lower my standards in the long run. I still reach my goals, even the high achieving ones, but I enjoy the process of getting there way more than I did before. I allow for mistakes and actually try more new things, outside of my comfort zone – something that helps me achieve more success.

How Embracing Mistakes Improves My Parenting

Many parents wonder how “cutting kids slack” (allowing for mistakes) is an effective parenting strategy. Do you fear that if you don’t push your kids to get it right that they’ll settle for getting it wrong? If you feel this fear, you’re not alone. Many parents are afraid that telling kids” it’s okay to fail” will result in kids not trying as hard.  Many aspects of our culture teach this type of thinking.

So this is one of those flip around situations for my life. Embracing mistakes seemed counter-intuitive to productivity at first, but after trying it, I’ve discovered that I’m more productive and get more done now that I’ve embraced mistakes in my whole life – in my business, in my parenting and in my kids’ actions.

When I first learned about Positive Discipline, I knew I wanted to work hard and change some of my parenting habits and my mindset around parenting. But each time I made a mistake, such as yelling at my child, I’d feel super guilty. I would beat myself up with a vengeance. Then I read and re-read the Positive Discipline book, especially the part about mistakes being opportunities to learn. It took a long time for me to start embracing my parenting mistakes, but now I can say I’m much better at it. I wasn’t doing my kids any favors by staying angry at myself. So I started using the 3 R’s of Recovery to learn from my mistakes and make amends with my kids. It took lots of baby steps to let go of my mistakes and turn them into learning opportunities but I’m so glad I did.

Parents, I hope you’ll consider embracing mistakes as part of the learning process. I know this may not be an easy task for you. It may be counter-intuitive and and way out of your comfort zone. First, try a baby step. Try embracing small mistakes – things that in your mind don’t matter much in the long run. After you’re comfortable with small mistakes, work on viewing some medium sized mistakes as part of the learning process. Change happens in baby steps. What’s a small step you can make towards embracing mistakes?

Kelly014Kelly Pfeiffer

Positive Discipline Lead Trainer

Imperfect Parent, Wife, Friend and Teacher





  1. Kelly, I just love this article and the cover poster. This would make a great book. Parents and children could submit their mistakes and what they learned from them–a great contribution to the world.

  2. I have been studying Positive Discipline for a long time and still very often I make mistakes. I am finally learning to honor them and move away from my need to be perfect. I could not have found this article at a more perfect time!

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