Your six-year-old son loves baseball. He carries baseball cards in his pocket, sleeps in baseball pajamas, and wears a baseball hat to school every day. He can’t wait until he can try out for a baseball team! Yet, as his parent, you can see all too clearly that his baseball skills are far behind those of his peers. What do you do?
Watching your child make mistakes or perform poorly is difficult for most parents. Many parents, especially in today’s culture, are tempted to protect their children from the pain of these experiences. Unfortunately, the child misses not just the pain of a momentary setback but also on the opportunity to grow and persevere. When you protect your child from performing poorly, you are teaching him unconsciously that his performance matters more than his effort or enthusiasm.
Naturally, your child will not be immediately successful at everything he tries. If your child learns to fear the possibility of a poor performance, he will be less likely to challenge himself and want to learn new skills. On the other hand, striking out at baseball tryouts can become an opportunity for a lesson about the importance of passion, practice, and hard work.
One of the best gifts you can give your child is the permission to make his own mistakes. Instead of thinking your job is to protect him from all pain, you can see yourself as an encourager and supporter on your child’s journey of growth and discovery. That way, your child learns that he does not need to fear any experience. Instead, he will learn that he can take any experience and turn it into something positive or empowering.