It’s Important to Make Mistakes in Your Parenting.
Having a small child is exhausting. It may be wonderful, fulfilling and hilarious at the same time, but no one can deny that it is relentless. I often flick through Instagram hearing well-meaning advice only to have fear running through my veins. Am I getting it wrong? Do I have to think about yet another thing? I’m keen for this blog to be different and not induce that dreaded parent guilt that we all feel from time to time. So, I decided to tell you that it’s Important to make mistakes in your parenting (within reason).
Why Mistakes are OK
We all know that our relationship with our child (the attachment relationship) is hugely important for their development. This puts pressure on us to be available, predictable and nurturing for our children – and do this consistently! However, life isn’t always like that (especially when we are juggling so many demands). What I love about the world of attachment is that it recognises that we can’t get it right all of the time – in fact, it’s about being a “good-enough” rather than perfect (aka unobtainable and stressful trying to be) parent.
So, how can making mistakes actually enhance our relationship? As you will know, its natural for there to be ruptures in our relationship with our children. We can’t meet our toddler’s needs all of the time and we can expect lots of unruly behaviour that doesn’t quite fit into our parenting plan! Although our children may only be exploring the world and finding out what is and what is not OK, we can’t just let them get on with it (2-year-olds aren’t the best risk assessors!). And sometimes, when we intervene, we get it wrong.
But making some mistakes in our parenting can be helpful! Not only do they show children that no one is perfect, and that we all get things wrong at times, and they model how to cope with conflict. They also help children learn that, even when you have a moment of disconnection or they do something unhelpful you still love them…win-win! So, it’s Important to make mistakes in your parenting.
Do Try To “Repair” When It’s Not Gone So Well
There are times we need to set boundaries – lots if your little one is anything like mine! Of course, this will cause a rupture in our relationship. There will be times when we won’t get what our child is communicating to us in that moment. This is obviously because a little person normally communicates using few words and maximum emotional expression! So, when you do make a mistake, for example shout when you don’t mean to or don’t realise that your child is hungry try not to worry. It’s a learning process.
All you need to do is show your child that you still love them, despite that moment of disconnection, and say you are sorry. For example, saying sorry for not noticing what they needed or that you had to stop them pulling the cats tail (but you know they were just being curious and you are not angry with them). This is called repairing a rupture and goes a long way to helping a child feel more secure in your relationship (as well as start to learn what is, and isn’t OK).
A Final Word About Why it’s Important to Make Mistakes in Your Parenting.
I hope that this helps you remember that parenting is hard and that you are doing your best.
And most importantly that mistakes are OK and can actually enhance your relationship with your child.
Having a small child is exhausting so remember to take care of you. Read about self-care here.
About the Author
Dr Sarah Mundy is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist (BSc., MSc., PDClin) and author of Parenting Through Stories. She has worked with children and families for 20 years and has specialised in helping parents connect with their children and support them with their emotional wellbeing, particularly those who have been through early adversity.
In addition to continuing to practice as a psychologist, Sarah is the creator and author of Parenting Through Stories. This comprises a series of interactive stories (Bartley’s Books) for young children, as well as an accompanying Parenting Handbook.
The children’s books support parents to talk with their little ones about common experiences in the early years, providing a platform to understand and manage tricky emotions and behaviours. The handbook provides parents with advice on how to best support their children’s emotional and behavioural development and feel more connected with them.
Sarah also writes articles for various publications and has the occasional appearance on BBC television on radio. She lives in beautiful Cornwall with her three children and partner.
Her books are available through https://linktr.ee/parenting_through_stories
You can also access free resources and parenting advice through www.parentingthroughstories.com), Instagram (@parenting_through_stories), Facebook (@parentingthroughstories) and Twitter (@bartley_bear).