The New Year is traditionally the time when we make resolutions to do better, live better, be better – our children included.

But what if, in 2018, we gave our children permission to get it wrong?

At home and at school, our parental instinct is to jump in and help our children ‘get it right’, and we’ve all been guilty of chastising them when they get something wrong.

Yet making mistakes is an essential part of learning. Children are unabashed about making mistakes: if they have never tried something before, they have little concern for the ‘correct’ outcome. Often, our own perception of success and failure dictates how we respond to our children’s behaviour.

Yes, children make mistakes – but children also recover. It is this process that builds resilience and cements inherent confidence that they can cope with the world. Children learn from their mistakes without our help; their own sense of dissatisfaction or failure can have far more impact than any telling off, and it’s usually enough to stop them making the same mistake twice.

It can be hard to let your child fail but these dos and don’ts are a good place to start:

Do:       Monitor and guide. Ask open-ended questions rather than giving answers and help your child reflect on what they could do differently next time.

Don’t:     Do it for them. Who really wants first prize for the science project –your child, or you?

Do:     Consider what makes you anxious. The things that faze you might not worry your child. Is the risk real or in your head?

Don’t    Let your fears stop your child having a go. They might teach you a new approach!

Do    Offer praise when it’s due. Your child might have built a wonky model or have spelling mistakes in their story, but are they proud of it? Did they learn something from the process?

Don’t:    Praise everything – blind admiration can be confusing and stop your child developing tools to be self-critical.

Do    Step in if they are in physical danger. Your child’s welfare comes first.

Don’t    Stop them taking risks. Ask yourself: what’s the worst that can happen?

Letting little ones make mistakes can be tough on them and us, so keep this quote from author Neil Gaiman in mind as we head into 2018:

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.”

Find out more


Role Models help children fly by giving them the skills they need to grow, develop and thrive in a changing world because they believe that children should be skilled for life as well as being schooled in the classroom.

To do this, they offer individual creative childcare to support childrens’ passions. They also provide courses that give children some of the key skills to succeed in the 21st century; leadership, resilience, teamwork and creative problem solving. They approach everything in a way that’s serious fun. Click here to learn more.

Hugo Shephard is the Managing Director of Role Models. The Role Models philosophy is to nurture character in children because they believe that ‘soft skills’ are as important as academic attainment. They focus on the individual strengths of every child and are deeply committed to supporting them through their formative years, ­whether that be through their Creative Childcare, Life Skills Courses or Special Needs Camps.. Before founding Role Models, Hugo worked at Ernst & Young as a Management Consultant in the healthcare sector.

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