When your child isn’t kind about a mistake you have made

Happy Wednesday!

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We had a really interesting question in the Ninja Parenting Community recently, and I wanted to share about the question, and my thoughts on how to handle it, with you this week!

Mama Llama asks: “how should I handle my 4-year-old realizing that other people get things wrong and how to handle it kindly?
“For example, this morning I asked if you wanted to take a certain car to play with in the sand and he reminded me those cars can’t go in the sand (which is true – we don’t take pull-backed cars in the sand so the gears don’t get messed up) and I said “oh, you’re right, that’s a good idea to leave them out.” And he delightedly yelled “You were wrong!!!”
“This has come up a couple times already, but I definitely don’t want to continue. Any thoughts? Thanks!”

I share, first of all, that this is a marathon-type of thing. It’s not a sprint.

The work of childhood is to understand how our words and actions affect other people.

We obviously do not want our children to the wandering through the world, smugly pointing out when someone else has made a mistake.

And of course we all know what it’s like to be teased in this way, when we’ve gotten something wrong.

The way I see it, we’ve got 3 options to help our kids see how their actions can affect others, when they are not being kind about a mistake that somebody makes:

1. Help your child understand when your feelings are hurt.
In this instance Mama Llama replied to her son “yes, you are right. I was wrong… But it hurts my feelings when you speak to me that way.”
She went on to say “I don’t speak to you that way.”
I love this. What she shared was the communication “you can do things that hurt. Please don’t.”
She’s giving her four-year-old lessons in emotional intelligence.

2. Ask your child “how would you feel if somebody said something like that to you?”
This is the development of empathy.
When we ask them to put themselves into someone else’s shoes, we guide them to see from others’ perspectives.
The more we do this, the better our children’s emotional intelligence gets developed.

3. Teach them to be good sports.
Often, we think about the need for “good sportsmanship” when we are on the losing end. We can talk about someone being a sore loser; but it seems rarer that we talked about how to be a good sport when we are on the winning side.
In this case, when our kids are right and we are wrong, they can be good sports by being kind about somebody else’s mistake.
We can teach them to say “that’s okay, everybody makes mistakes sometimes.”

We can teach this with our behavior as well as our words.

In fact I love that Mama Llama, in her forum post, does just that.

She’s teaching her four-year-old how to be a good sport when she frames his thinking on this issue.
Which at first seems quite small, but represents a lot of different aspects of empathy and emotional intelligence.

I hope you find thinking on this useful as you go into your week!

Thanks for reading!


Keep reading below for What’s up on the podcast/In the Facebook group/in NPC…

Wishing you a wonderful parenting week!

What’s up on the podcast this week:
Is academic learning good for young children?
Click the link below for a discussion on this huge, and hugely important, topic.

What’s up in the We Turned Out Okay Facebook group this week:
We’re talking about one way to teach young children… that really works.
Click here to check it out!

What’s up in the Ninja Parenting Community:
Questions and answers about defiant preschooler behavior.

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