Mistakes are Normal Natural and Necessary

There’s a parable about a new mother who discovered a butterfly struggling mightily to escape its cocoon through a tiny opening at the top. She became concerned when the creature seemed to give up after making no progress. Certain that the butterfly just wouldn’t make it out without help, she enlarged the hole slightly.

On its next try, the butterfly wriggled out easily.  But the young women’s joy turned to horror as she saw its wings were shriveled and useless. Her well-intentioned intervention turned out badly because it interrupted a natural process. You see, forcing the butterfly to squeeze though a small opening is nature’s way of assuring that blood from the creature’s body is pushed into the wings. By making it easier, she deprived the butterfly of strong wings.

Childhood, too, is a sort of cocoon. If a healthy adult is to emerge, parents must allow, even encourage, their children to struggle, to make mistakes and learn from them, and to pay a price for their own bad judgments and conduct.

Of course, good parents should be ready to protect their children from serious harm.  But being overprotective can itself cause serious harm. Adversity is not always an enemy.  It’s often a teacher that helps young people develop wings strengthened by self-confidence and self-reliance.

Helen Keller once said, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”

 Michael Josephson from Character Counts

The character traits perseverance and determination require patience and encouragement from us as adults. Encouraging what is called “Productive Struggle” pushes kids to the next level of learning. Both of these traits, perseverance, and determination are the key to future success.  Research shows that children, when are given challenges, opportunities to problem-solve and think critically, within their abilities, will deepen their learning. (Springer) A growth mindset means to push through, persevere, and give your best effort.  When we do these things, success will be the result. Children must build the skills of perseverance and determination now.  Being afraid to try something new for fear of failure will create many limits in their future.  The way to build future success and strong skills are to be willing to take a risk.  According to Mickey Rooney, “You always pass failure on the way to success.” 

As we all know, success is not achieved from pure luck but rather from hard work, goal setting, desire, willingness to do “whatever it takes”, and the understanding that there are steps to achieving goals.  Often in the process, there can be “bumps in the road,” or it can take time to get to where you want to go.  Mistakes can happen along the way, or choices made can create consequences.  All of these things are the components of building future adults our young people will become.  Your ongoing assistance, support, and partnership are building our children rather than repairing our adults. Your help in working through mistakes and turning them into opportunities for future success makes for a positive return.  Thanks again for supporting your child in filling buckets with determination and perseverance. Development of social-emotional skills and positive character traits will prepare them for the future!

Leave a Comment

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