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Dare to Fail - How to Help Your Children Overcome Perfectionism

by: Hagit Segal
What is the first word that comes to mind when you think of Mistakes? A survey conducted by students at the University of Texas shows that the two most popular words parents mentioned in relation to mistakes are FAILURE and LEARN.
86% of mothers want to give their children room to make mistakes, but at the same time, there is a 33% increase in socially prescribed perfectionism in the last two decades. We want to give our children room for making mistakes, but ultimately, we are not allowing it to happen… why?
Sadly, perfectionism is celebrated in our society. Employees are encouraged to work endless hours; our education system mostly operates as a grading factory and leaves little to no room for creative expression. The media encourages women to become thinner, improve their skin, add hair extensions, work full time, and run perfect households. Men are measured by their financial success and are criticized for any expression of their emotions.
Social media magnifies our dissatisfaction with ourselves by portraying a false perfect life. Marketing firms make sure that we’re not happy with who we are to ensure an increase in sales of their clients’ products. There is an entire system built around us trying to convince us that we are not good enough and it takes a toll on our mental health.
One’s attempts to reach an unrealistic goal may cause depression, anxiety, social stress, eating disorders, anger issues or mental disorders. Any of these issues could become a life and death matter. Did you know that suicide is the number two cause of death in ages 15-24 years old? This horrific statistic shows us that we need to help our children love and accept themselves at a very young age so that they don’t give up on life as teenagers.
We as parents have a choice on how to respond to mistakes that our children make. This is not as easy as making a simple decision. First, we need to learn to accept and love ourselves for who we are so that we can teach our children to do the same. Give yourself permission to simply be.
Allowing our children (and ourselves) to fail doesn’t mean that we do not set goals and stay in our comfort zone. This simply means that on our journey to achieve our dreams, we have compassion for ourselves and those around us. We accept the struggles and setbacks of that journey as part of our learning process and don’t bring ourselves down when they happen.
Once we take care of our own mental health and have a healthy view of what’s important in life, we can teach our children that it’s ok to make mistakes and that failure is just another step on the way to success.
At Mistake Club we empower children and the adults in their lives, by promoting resilience through teaching them how to embrace mistakes and imperfection. We use toys, books, activities, videos, and newsletters to bring educational content to kids, parents, and educators.
Our character Mistake is an uneven, mismatched, super cute monster! It makes many mistakes and gets excited when we make them too, because that means we are daring to try new things and we are learning. Mistake loves and understands everyone without any judgement, because owning your mistakes builds character. However, most importantly, mistakes do not define you!