When a child makes a MISTAKE...

it has long been accepted that mistakes are not allowed, and their commitments are subject to severe criticism. When a child makes a mistake.

When a child makes a MISTAKE...
When a child makes a MISTAKE...

As adults, we usually see mistakes as a sign of a lack of knowledge or skills in a given area. In our culture, it has long been accepted that mistakes are not allowed, and their commitments are subject to severe criticism. When a child makes a mistake.

Why we don't allow mistakes

The reasons for this approach can be found in generally accepted social norms and in one's own experiences from childhood and adolescence. Many of us adults remember how he was treated by his parents, grandparents or teachers when he happened to make a mistake. We have usually been punished for them, which has taught us and our brain that there is only one right solution or one right answer to a certain question, and it is wrong to make mistakes. Before we could learn from what happened and what we did wrong, and then look at the natural consequences, we received a depressing message from adults. We were often ridiculed, moralized, criticized, and compared to others. So it is hardly surprising that when our children are wrong once again, an evaluation mechanism is immediately triggered within us. We also feel angry and disappointed.

It is worth remembering that adolescence significantly influences the way we think about ourselves and our children today, interpreting their behavior and responding to their needs. It defines, inter alia, our way of looking at the usual everyday stumbles and mistakes that happen to both us and our children all the time. That is why it is so important to look at your own childhood experiences and your approach to the widely understood culture of error. And then realize that it's natural to be wrong. When children make mistakes, it does not mean that they are less intelligent, competent or gifted than others. It only means that they need time, fresh experiences and free attempts to find new, better solutions to a certain extent, and criticizing them for this only distances them from real learning of themselves and the world around them.

Mistakes are an important part of children's learning and healthy development

Contemporary brain research clearly shows that real learning only occurs when a child is able to act independently - to experiment, make mistakes and draw conclusions.

Neuroscientists prove that after making a mistake in a child's brain, the so-called a reward system that naturally motivates them to do the same thing in the future, but correctly. The recording of the brain's work while repeating an incorrectly performed activity shows that the brain begins to focus on a thorough analysis of the situation and looking for new solutions. This is so that the child can ultimately complete a certain task correctly. It's fair to say that the brain treats making mistakes as a positive reinforcement.

What the research says

One of the most interesting studies confirming this thesis was conducted by a team of neuroscientists at Michigan State University.

Children aged 7 participated in the study (this is the age when a child begins to be able to reflect on his behavior, attitude, emotions and making moral choices). The brains of children who played a complicated computer game requiring high precision were monitored.

The participants' task was to catch the animals that had escaped from the zoo. The children pressed the correct key when a certain animal appeared on the screen. However, it was not possible to catch three orangutans, which only helped in catching escapees.

Must Read: Let the words flow. How to perform in public

It was noticed that in a very short time after the mistake (literally in a fraction of a second) the brain activity of each child who made a mistake increased significantly. The brain knew exactly that it was wrong and tried to find the cause and the solution to the problem immediately. When allowed to do so, he could search for a new opportunity until he got the job done properly. When further activity was blocked, areas of the brain responsible for critical thinking ceased to be active. It is a simple mechanism that, when properly supported by adults, allows the child to concentrate more on a given issue and learn new things more effectively.

How the brain works when it is not allowed to make mistakes

At the moment when a child is criticized in a specific way for making mistakes (reprimanded, ridiculed or compared), the production of dopamine - an important chemical responsible, among other things, for learning and memory processes - stops in the child's brain. If the brain is not producing dopamine, long-term memory and learning stops immediately.

Dopamine is released again when the child is given free space to try, analyze and experience. Therefore, researchers refer to it as "the substance of curiosity and exploratory behavior."

How to support a child who makes mistakes

First of all, it is worth communicating with him in a way that supports his internal motivation for further work and study. So when we want to raise our voices to the child and criticize him for his mistakes, it is best to take a few deep breaths and, instead of criticizing, accompany the child and be attentive to his needs. Help him with what he is unable to deal with at the moment. Help not by doing it ("Give it, I'll do it for you, it will be faster"), but by accepting and understanding the natural human imperfection and the need to learn by doing.

When the school does not allow mistakes...

Parents who see the value in their children's errors often feel concerned that the school does not usually allow them. They are afraid that in school desks, children will lose the opportunity to develop important qualities and competences (such as critical thinking, creativity, entrepreneurship, etc.), without which it will be difficult for them to navigate in the modern world.

On the one hand, this doubt can be considered correct. School, and more precisely - the adults working in it influence our children and their development. On the other hand, numerous studies show that we, the parents, have a decisive influence on the healthy and proper development of young people and their brains. Especially in the first years of a child's life, it is us, the parents, who in our daily interactions and relationships with children influence their development in a certain way. We can have a supportive or depressing effect on him. How we relate to children and how we actually perceive them, especially when they do not follow common ideals (i.e. when they make mistakes), determines how strong their further motivation to learn and take up more and more it's newer challenges. It is also important that children do not notice in the world only adults who criticize them and their actions, but rather wise and helpful companions of their first important life discoveries and experiences.