Irish Grassroots Football

Mistakes are how they learn….

Probably the most difficult part of coaching or parenting is knowing when to step in after a mistake or step away and say nothing.

The other day I let my daughter cut some cheese with a very sharp knife……Well, she had already started before I noticed, so I let her finish and then I stepped in to show her were she should place her fingers…… Last year I may have stepped in a lot sooner to prevent her from cutting herself…….. On this occasion I felt she wasn’t in any danger and looked in control of what she was doing. However, a yell to protect her, may have changed all that….

The fact of the matter is  young children aren’t afraid of messing up.

Below is a great article from Psychologies UK >

As we grow older and become more conscious that we see mistakes as failure. ‘Children only dread making mistakes as a result of their parents’ responses,’ says family psychologist Dr Randy Cale…

‘For example, if we show anger or disappointment.’ Most of us can recall a childhood telling-off where we felt desperately humiliated, and these are the times that led us to link failure with fear’

According to Cale, many parents jump in to correct their child’s mistakes, not realising that natural consequences do 90 per cent of the teaching for them. ‘There’s a strong tendency to feel shame present in children that you don’t need to accentuate,’ he says. ‘If you allow a child to process the emotions, you may not need to do or say anything else.’

Leaping in to correct mistakes can also be counter-productive. ‘Imagine a giant looking down at you with anger or upset in their eyes,’ says Cale. ‘If your child is wired in an oppositional way, you’ve just fired up their fight mechanism. They’re ready to dig their heels in.’

Further to this, research shows that negative feedback is mostly futile for children under 12. A study of eight- and nine-year-olds by psychologist Dr Eveline Crone revealed that the area of their brain responsible for cognitive control reacted strongly to positive feedback, but hardly at all to negative feedback. However, this changes at 12 years of age, when children start to pay attention to negative feedback as well.

In fact, there are only two mistakes that call for your input. First, if your child’s physical safety is under threat, and second, when the consequences of bad behaviour won’t be apparent for some time, for example if you hear your daughter lying to another child, but the effect of the lie won’t come out until next week. ‘If you spot your child doing something worrying but can’t see an instant repercussion, create one,’ says Cale. You could expose the fib with an apparently innocent question, to show your child you have noticed without shaming her.

How do you see the world?

What’s your job as a parent?

If you answered ‘To protect my child’ then your parenting style is likely to be fear-based. ‘ 

Whenever a parent makes decisions based on trying to avoid something, they create anxiety for the child,’ says Cale. It can also lead to hyper-vigilance, with parents constantly reminding their child what to do. ‘Brush your teeth. Get out of the car. Pack your bag.’ This kind of prompting can unknowingly teach a competent, capable child to believe they can’t do anything unless told to.

If, on the other hand, you answered ‘To raise a child who’ll thrive in any situation’ then you believe he/she can learn from their mistakes. Children are more resilient than we think and are rarely scarred by early experiences. ‘They can’t grasp the gravity of situations like adults can and don’t dwell on things to the same extent,’ says paediatrician Dr Jennifer Cunningham.

Do you see your child as a miniature version of you, or as a one-of-a-kind individual?

No matter how many of your qualities they’ve inherited, they are not destined to repeat your mistakes. One of the best gifts you can give your child is the independence to make their own decisions. ‘Many of us were managers before we were parents, so it can help to think of it as delegation,’ says Gardner. ‘ When you delegate something, you don’t expect the other person to do it precisely as you would. So when you hand over decisions to your children, don’t expect them to make the choices you want them to.’

Ask, too, is it really a mistake? A child’s picture of success is different from yours, so be careful not to impose your values on them. ‘If they make an Airfix model and all the parts are attached in the wrong order, you may see mistakes but they see something they’re proud of,’ says Gardner. ‘Do these mistakes really need correcting?’

Letting your child make mistakes doesn’t just strengthen their resolve. It also builds your confidence. Through reassuring them that they can handle life, you begin to see it’s true – they can. ‘You want to instil in a child the sense that whatever life throws at them, they can handle it,’ says Cale. ‘The core of what we want to communicate to our kids is that they’re equipped and competent.’



Recognise it, admit it, learn from it and then forget it!
Mistake are the stepping stones to achievements.
You should always give encouragement after mistakes are made.
Never highlight mistakes with anger. (They know they did it)
If the players know how to correct a mistake, than encouragement alone is suffice.
Mistakes are what kids worry about the most.
If we can create an environment where mistakes are ok and part of the learning process, it will help to develop mental toughness.
Reducing fear of mistakes allows the player to focus more of his/her energy in the game.
A great mistakes ritual is the Superman Power Pose see Amy Cuddy TEDTalk


I always like to hear your opinions and views. If you feel you have something to say, please comment below or email me and if you don’t have anything to add, please pass this on to a friend.

As always, thanks for reading. I’m also on twitter  @Coachdiary


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