Monthly Article Archives: December 2000

Mistakes: Experiences from which to Learn or Feel Defeated? – Part IIIRobert Brooks, Ph.D.

In my last two newsletters I discussed the role that parents, teachers, and other adults can assume to help children deal more effectively with mistakes and setbacks. I emphasized the importance of this topic by noting that one of the main characteristics of successful people is the way in which they manage mistakes and failure. Children who grow up with a healthy attitude towards mistakes and who recognize that mistakes are experiences from which to learn are children who are willing to take realistic risks in meeting life’s challenges. Adults will be better equipped to nurture this attitude in children if they themselves are not burdened by unrealistic fears of making mistakes. Children are astute observers of how their parents and other caregivers respond to setbacks. Day in and day out we serve as models for how to react to mistakes. Given this responsibility, those of us in the position of raising and interacting with children must strive to develop a positive perspective about obstacles and setbacks. Even if we are not raising children, achieving this positive perspective is important for our own emotional and physical well-being. In reflecting upon my career as a clinical psychologist and therapist I have

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